Shaykh Ansari Mosque, Najaf, Iraq
Holding of festivities to mark the 2,500 years of monarchy
Economic problems of the people; the holding of festivities to mark the 2,500 years of monarchy; the incumbency of the `ulama's uprising
Clergy and seminary students of Najaf
جلد ۲ صحیفه امام خمینی (ره)، از صفحه ۳۶۹ تا صفحه ۳۸۹
I seek refuge in God from the accursed Satan
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
I feel it is my duty on certain occasions to draw the gentlemen's «1» attention to some aspects of the problems facing the people of Islam and it may be that you will consider it your duty also to attempt to aid your Muslim brothers, even if only by way of propagation, telegrams and letters.
Usurpation of rule from Hadrat Amir (`a) as the greatest disaster that befell Islam
From the beginning, the Muslims and Islam were plagued by the carnal desires of some people which, after the death of the Prophet (s), prevented the true Islamic government from being set up and which are the cause of our problems today. If they had allowed the government that Islam calls for to be set up, the ruler that God, the Blessed and Exalted, had designated, that the Most Noble Messenger had appointed «2» to rule, if they had allowed that system to come into being, the government to be an Islamic government, the governor to be he who was designated by God, then the people would understand what Islam really is and know the true meaning of an Islamic government. Unfortunately, after the death of the Prophet the people were led away from that which he had ordered, and this deviation was not only confined to that time, rather it prepared the grounds for a permanent deviation such that throughout subsequent Muslim history, apart from the short time that Imam `Ali (`a) ruled, «3» a true Islamic government could not be established.
What Mu`awiyah «4» did, with the help of those personalities and elders from before the time of Islam, brought about these troubles for the Muslims and Islam. This internal conflict, which was worse than any other conflict, embroiled Imam `Ali, and after his rule, the system of government lost its Islamic character entirely and was replaced by a monarchical regime. However, the short time that Imam `Ali ruled and determined his own governmental policies- even with all the problems he faced: the Battle of the Camel; «5» the Battle of Siffin; «6» the battle with the Kharijites «7»- served as a lesson for the Muslims and they came to understand what Islam really is, to a certain extent at least.
A manifestation of `Ali's (`a) Islamic government
If they had allowed the government to retain its Islamic form and the people to live in the shelter of an Islamic government, perhaps all these misfortunes which afflict us in the present day would not have come about. The governor who was chosen by God, the Blessed and Exalted, to exercise rule over that ummah was a person who, when he became ruler, when everyone gathered around him and swore allegiance to him, lived more frugally than the most impoverished of our religious students or grocers. His food was stale oaten bread, and it is said that at the end of his life the bread that he ate was so hard and dry that he had to break it with his knee and eat it with water. «8» It is related that Imam `Ali used to say:" I am afraid that in some corner of my realm there is a hungry person and how can I sleep with a full stomach when one of my subjects goes hungry." This was what an Islamic system of government meant.
The greatest disaster that befell Islam was the usurpation of rule by Mu`awiyah from Imam `Ali. This disaster was even worse than the tragedy of Karbala, and the misfortunes that descended upon Imam `Ali and Islam at that time were worse than those which befell the Doyen of the Martyrs [Imam Husayn (`a)]. The greatest disaster of all at that time was that they did not allow the people to perceive the true meaning of Islam. Even today the people are unsure of what Islam really is, what an Islamic government is, what Islam requires and what programs Islam has for governance. Even today, Islam remains obscure. The people of Islam should mourn the usurpation of rule from Imam `Ali and commemorate those five or six years when he governed, when even with all the problems he faced and all the troubles that were created for him he maintained a true Islamic system. They should commemorate his justice, the fact that he was at one with his people, that his standard of living was lower than that of others while his spirit rose ever higher above the horizons. They should commemorate God. They should commemorate a ruler who, when he hears that an anklet has been stolen from a non-Muslim woman living under the protection of Islam, «9» wishes to die of shame. «10»
Relationship between the faithful and the law
"As for those who disbelieve, they engage in pleasure and in eating as the beasts eat, and the fire shall be their abode." «11» This is the distinguishing feature. One who eats and takes his pleasure with no concern for what is permitted or forbidden [haram], who pays no attention to the condition of the people or to the ordinances of the Islamic laws, such a person is like an animal, he eats as the beasts eat and the" fire shall be his abode." According to a tradition, the unbeliever eats with seven stomachs, whereas the believer eats with only one. «12» The believer has just one stomach which accepts only that which is lawful. He adapts his appetite, his other desires to the laws of Islam so that he does not violate those laws. But the unbeliever eats with seven stomachs. Satiating one's lusts without concern for the laws of Islam, this constitutes one stomach. Satiating one's anger without concern for the law, this is another stomach. Satisfying one's carnal desires, this is another. Another three are created from a mixture of any two of the above three, and another one comes from all these three together. That makes seven. The unbelievers have seven stomachs but the believer has no more than one, and his stomach is satisfied in the way of the law. Islam has commanded just one way. It's not the case that the believer follows his anger or his lusts, these are controlled by him. All these forces within him are subordinate to the power of wisdom, and this itself is subject to the law of Islam. The Muslims should mourn the passing of that government of wisdom, that government of justice, belief and God: they should commemorate those few years of Imam `Ali's rule.
Gentlemen, these matters of which I am to speak are not imaginary. Unfortunately, I have received letters and complaints from Iran about the situation there which do not cease to trouble me. One of the respected `ulama' of Shiraz has written saying that famine has afflicted some families in the south of the country to the extent that hunger has forced them to sell their children. «13» One of the `ulama' from Fasa has also written to me about the situation in the country saying that he wanted to arrange some food and clothes for the impoverished people, and I agreed that he could use money from the charitable contributions «14» for this purpose. Letters have also arrived from Tehran telling me that there is famine in Balouchistan and Sistan and in the outlying regions of Khorasan such that the people have swarmed into the major cities and because of hunger they can no longer keep their livestock. While these tragic circumstances and conditions prevail around the country, millions of tumans are to be spent celebrating in honor of the monarchy. «15» According to reports, 80 million tumans are to be spent on Tehran alone preparing the city for the festivities. Experts have been invited from Israel to take care of the arrangements for the celebrations; from Israel, that country which is the enemy of Islam, which is at present at war with Islam, which destroyed the al-Aqsa Mosque- a crime which some people sought to cover up. «16» In addition, according to the world's major radio stations, Iranian oil tankers are on their way to Israel filled with Iranian oil for a country which is at war with the Muslims! «17» These are the actions of the kings that we have to hold festivals for!
Since its inception to the present time, the Iranian monarchy has befouled history. The crimes of the kings of Iran have blackened the pages of history. It is the kings of Iran who massacred their own people, who beheaded them and built towers with their skulls. «18» Should the Islamic nation now honor the rule of such monarchs with a celebration?! Should the merchants of the bazaar in Tehran now be forced to contribute to such festivities?! One should commemorate the ruler in whose shelter the Muslims lived comfortably. One should commemorate a ruler who, when he hears that an anklet has been stolen from a non-Muslim woman living under the protection of Islam, wishes to die of shame, not he who, because a slogan is uttered in the university which runs counter to his carnal desires, sends his men to the university to beat the students. Gentlemen, according to reports that have reached here, some female students needed surgery as a result of the blows and wounds they received. This crime happened just recently but here in Najaf no one is aware of it (the audience weeps). I am not able to mention the other shameful deeds that they perpetrated. Why did this happen? Their only crime was opposing the twenty-five hundredth anniversary celebrations and saying:" We have no need of this festival; we are hungry; put an end to the hunger of the Muslim people; do not celebrate over the corpses of the people." Gentlemen, let the world know about these things. Why is Najaf so sound asleep? Do we not have a responsibility? Is our only duty to study? Should we pay no attention to the problems of the Muslims? Are we not to protest that the oil belonging to Iran and Islam is sent to a country which is at war with Muslims? Is there no cause for protest here? Should we not speak about this? «19» Which kings are we to commemorate? What happiness have kings ever brought the people? Should we commemorate Aqa Muhammad Khan Qajar?! «20» Even in my time the Qajars were still committing atrocities. Should we commemorate the monarch who massacred the Muslims in the mosque of Gauhar Shad in such numbers that the walls were stained with blood and the gates of the mosque had to be closed so that none see the spectacle? «21» Should we celebrate the rule of that monarch who was responsible for the events of Khordad 15, who killed, according to one of the `ulama', four hundred people in Qum alone, who had fifteen thousand people massacred throughout Iran? Should we commemorate the rule of these people?! Even those that were reputed to be `good' were vile and cruel. It is related that one such `good' monarch, for whose soul prayers are said, once on the way to `Abd al-`Azim ordered a group of poor hungry soldiers, who had dared to assemble about his coach to ask for bread and because a stone thrown by one of them had struck his carriage, to be strangled with a rope. «22» The order was carried out in part before one of the great ministers, one of the noblemen of Iran, «23» objected saying that they were only poor servants of God and shouldn't be treated so. His intervention caused the rest to be spared.
This was one of the `good' monarchs; the deeds of the evil monarchs are much worse, as we are witnessing now.
We should mourn for these governments
They eat with seven stomachs! They pay no attention to the nation, to the elementary needs of the nation. People address themselves to us constantly from all over Iran asking permission to use the charitable taxes for the building of bathhouses. So what is all this talk about the Iranian people being prosperous and content? Are they prosperous when they sell their children because of hunger?! Is Iran now prospering? They are now extorting money by pressure and force from the merchants of the bazaars of the country so they can spend some of it on these shameful festivities and use the rest for themselves or their agents. They spend the wealth of the poor people and Muslims for these celebrations, and from the country's budget they spend millions, tens of millions on such an amusement, such an idiotic spectacle. For what? To satisfy their carnal desires. So that it can be said that we are the people who have celebrated; we are proud that we had Aqa Muhammad Qajar, we are proud that we had Nadir Qouli. God knows what a ruthless butcher he was. «24» Should we commemorate these people? The Muslims must mourn the existence of such rulers. They should commemorate a ruler who, when he thinks that someone may be going hungry in a far corner of his realm, suffers hunger voluntarily himself. His seat of government was the mosque in Koufah, his bench of judgment was situated in one corner of the mosque and he" ate food as a slave eats and sat as a slave sits." «25» According to tradition, he once bought two tunics, and finding one of them better than the other, he gave the better one to his servant Qanbar. «26» The other he kept for himself, and since its sleeves were too long for him, he tore off the extra portion and in this torn garment the ruler of a country ten times the size of Iran went out to deliver his sermon. This gives cause for celebration.
Gentlemen, come to your senses; awaken Najaf. Protest against these crimes. If one hundred telegrams were sent from Najaf in a polite form and showing full respect, even using the title `His Most Exalted Highness', «27» requesting that these hungry people be fed, that all this expense that the government wants to pay out on these affairs be spent on this misfortunate hungry nation, on this poor, bankrupt people some of whom have run away from Iran and some of whom are here; if one hundred telegrams were sent to Iran by the religious scholars and students here, it may have some effect. But unfortunately, such an idea occurs to no one and I should be only too grateful that no one complains to me about my criticisms of the Iranian government! Really, don't we have a duty to perform here? Should we just sit back and pay no attention to the circumstances of the people or to what tragedies befall them? Is it enough for us to simply go to Imam `Ali's shrine, pray for them and come back? We who depend on Islam for our living- even though our budget may only be little, still we are living off that- are we not to lift a finger for the sake of Islam? Is tarattub «28» Islam? Well fair enough, in its place it is; but is that enough? Is it enough that we gather in such and such a mosque and study Islamic jurisprudence[ fiqh ]and dogmatic theology[ usoul ]but remain unaware of the concerns of Muslims? Are we to ignore this Jew who wants to seize all the lands of Islam up to Iraq and destroy these shrines? Is then that person «29» who gives him oil a Muslim? Do we not have cause to object, to ask why sir are you giving the oil of Muslims to the unbelievers? Why are you giving the oil of Muslims to a people who are at war with the Muslims? Of course he will answer:" I'm a servant, I've been given orders and I have to carry them out." Naturally, a servant has no other choice but to obey his masters. He said himself in one of his speeches «30» that the Allies had installed him on the throne:" The Allies, after occupying Iran, thought it fitting that I should be in control of affairs, and they agreed to my accession to the throne." May God curse them for thinking it fitting. Someone who is a puppet has to serve his masters; he cannot do otherwise. All this stems from following carnal desires. Attacking the universities comes from nothing other than carnal desires. Attacking the Faydiyyah Madrasah and the perpetration of such unthinkable, opprobrious deeds there stem from carnal desires. They insulted the Qur'an and Imam Ja`far «31» in this attack, they set fire to the students' turbans and threw some of them off the roof of the building. One young sayyid was brought to our house with a broken back after they had thrown him off the roof. Should we now celebrate the rule of such a person? There is nothing for us to celebrate. What is there for the Iranian nation to celebrate? It's the duty of the Iranian nation to engage in passive struggle against this festival, acts of violence are not necessary. They should refrain from participation in these festivities and remain indoors during the days of the festival. They should avoid participating as far as possible.
If all the `ulama' of Iran were to protest collectively against these celebrations would the authorities arrest them all, banish them or execute them all?! If all the `ulama' of Iran, who number at least 150,000, all the mullahs, maraji`, Hujjat al-Islams and Ayatullahs were to protest and break this seal of silence, this silence which in fact endorses these atrocities, would the authorities destroy them all? If they were able to do this, they would first destroy me, but their interests do not permit them to do so. If it would be only in their interest to destroy me!
What life is this that I lead? Death to this life of mine. They imagine that I am very happy and content with my life and so they think that they can threaten me. Let them come, the sooner the better. «32» Death as soon as possible would be better than this life; then I might join the presence of the Most Noble One in the Hereafter, where nobleness and kindness reign supreme, and be delivered from this life of misfortune. What life is this that I lead, constantly hearing the cries and moans of our oppressed and tyrannized people? Every day news arrives of the atrocities they have committed against the young women. How they have killed some of them, how bandits and ruffians attacked the university at lunch time and poured boiling liquid from the pans over the students' heads. For what? Because they said down with so-and-so and long live so-and-so. Should they kill people because of this? They said why do we need a 2,500 years of monarchy celebration? Those people should celebrate who have some kind of life, who have a government under whose protection they are happy and comfortable. One should celebrate the rule of Imam `Ali whose people were protected within the shadow of his sword, whose people were secure; no one was afraid of his rule. No one was afraid of the government because it was a government of justice and a government of justice excites no fear. But is this the case with the Iranian government? In our country circumstances are such that everyone lives in fear waiting for the government agents to burst into their homes. They may be innocent, but the authorities attack, arrest and torture now on the strength of mere suspicion. It is just like the time of Ibn Ziyad and Hajjaj when if it was even suspected that someone might be a follower of Imam `Ali he was seized and destroyed. «33» If someone offers them a word of advice or publishes a few copies of an admonitive pamphlet, they arrest him and take him off to some unknown destination. If someone utters a word from the pulpit, if he says something which does not even have much impact on the people, still he is arrested and carried off to prison. Don't we have a duty to at least expose these crimes?
The necessity of the clergy's collective protest against the holding of celebration marking the 2,500- years of monarchy
What do I consider as my duty? I consider it my duty to remind you that such things are taking place, to cry out with all the strength at my command and to write and publish with whatever power my pen may have. If my colleagues too consider it proper, if they regard the nation of Islam as their own nation, if they consider that nation to comprise of their followers then let them do the same. And if they do not consider it proper, they must decide for themselves, and may God watch over them. What are we to do in the face of all these problems? Even though we have still not purified ourselves, for if we had we would be thinking about these problems, should I now sit and speak to you about ethics and self-purification while the Muslims and the foundations of Islam are being destroyed!?
You have a path of action open to you. Each of you writes a letter of protest to the government of Iran. A stamp doesn't cost much, even though your income is very little; write a letter for God's sake. Tell them to abandon this festival, to feed the hungry. Ask the learned scholars and authorities of Najaf to give some advice to the Iranian government. I do not even say they must protest, rather, by way of exhortation and counsel let them ask very politely that they cease behaving towards our people in this way. «34» They are making the people suffer, and if they are allowed to continue unrestrained still worse misfortunes will descend upon us. Every day new events are created. They even have special experts for dreaming up these events. Every day they create a new festival, a new idiotic spectacle. If matters continue on their present course, we will be faced with events in the near future that none of us can even imagine.
It may be effective if we make our protests known to the Islamic countries which plan to take part in these vile festivals, if we ask them not to partake in these sordid celebrations, not to participate in the murder of the Iranian nation. Tell the Islamic countries to shun all participation in this festival that is being arranged by Israeli experts and engineers on the outskirts of Shiraz. «35»
Israel's conspiracy against Islam
Experts from Israel are taking care of the arrangements- from Israel, that enemy of Islam and the Qur'an which a few years ago attempted to corrupt the text of the Qur'an «36» and now imputes to the Qur'an unworthy statements. Just recently the Israelis claimed that Sourah Five Verse Six of the Qur'an says that after easing nature, the Muslim does not have the right to wash his hands with soap only with water, and that this has been the cause of some of the diseases in Germany. This matter created such a hullabaloo in that country. What is Verse Six of Sourah Five? It is a verse which talks about ritual cleanliness. «37» This is what the Israelis are like. They bear so much animosity towards Islam. Our students abroad vigorously protested against this and refuted these statements, may God strengthen and assist them. They wrote to the newspapers, but some of the government-controlle press did not accept their arguments and those which did did not really give enough publicity to their counter-arguments. They met with the authorities and told them that this was a lie; they proved its falsehood in articles in their newspapers and magazines. They performed such a great service for Islam. Can the same be said about us? They are the students of the modern sciences, but they are Muslim, they are awake while you and I as students of the traditional sciences are asleep or involved with other things. One should not speak out about the situation here! Speaking out is incompatible with the position of a marja` or an akhound! Shouldn't the akhounds speak out?! «38»
Interference in politics as duty of the clergy
Were not the Prophet and Imam `Ali religious scholars and did they not preach long sermons? How is it that now, when it is the turn of the present generation of religious scholars to speak out, we make excuses so we can shirk our responsibility. Gentlemen, do not let allow yourselves to be taught to think like this. It is your duty to serve Islam, and service to Islam does not just mean studying, this is only one aspect of it. You have a duty to concern yourselves with the problems of the Muslims. You have a duty to interfere. How often we have been told we must not interfere in affairs of state. It seems that we have in fact come to believe that we should not interfere in the affairs of government, we should not object. Yet since the very beginning of history the prophets and scholars of religion have stood up to tyrannical governments. Did they not realize that they were not supposed to do this? When God the Blessed and Exalted sent Moses to destroy Pharaoh, didn't He know that one must not struggle against kings? It is related in a tradition and quoted in either the work of Tabari «39» or Ibn Athir, «40» that the Prophet said that the title of `King of kings' is the most repugnant of all titles in his eyes. «41» It is one of the most hated titles given to a human being. This title is for God.
From the very beginning, the prophets and after them the Imams (`a) all rose up against kings and tyrannical governments, not relinquishing the struggle even under conditions of extreme difficulty or imprisonment. Mousa ibn Ja`far continued his struggle even in prison. «42» Abou `Abdillah «43» practiced dissimulation [taqiyyah] and related the maqboulah tradition «44» and at the same time he confronted them; he confronted them with words and propaganda and by this means he urged the people on in their struggles against the king. Imam Hasan rose up against the king of his day, Mu`awiyah, as far as he was able, «45» even though at that time most people had sworn allegiance to Mu`awiyah and recognized him as their king. And when he was betrayed by a group of self-seeking, opportunistic followers and left without support, the very conditions of the peace treaty that he signed with Mu`awiyah disgraced that monarch, «46» just as later, the bloody revolt of the Doyen of the Martyrs [Imam Husayn] disgraced Yazid. The confrontation has always continued. Later on the great scholars of Islam fought against the tyrants who spent the wealth of their country on debauchery and trivial enjoyment abroad. One person in particular borrowed great sums of money and went to Europe twice, three times- but are human desires ever satisfied? The `ulama' opposed his actions. «47» At that time they were strong.
The nation was vital and alert, the people supported them and they were successful in their struggle. If we too are vital and alert, we will be successful. But unfortunately each one of us persists in his own individual opinion, and naturally, if one hundred million people have one hundred million different opinions, they will be unable to accomplish anything, for" the hand of God is with the group." «48» Solidarity and unity are essential, and isolated individuals can achieve nothing. If the `ulama' of Qum, Mashhad, Tabriz, Isfahan and the other cities in Iran were to protest collectively today against this scandalous festival and this debauchery that they are about to bring about, if they were to condemn these crimes and extravagances which are destroying the people and the nation, all for the sake of satisfying their own carnal desires, be assured that results would be forthcoming. But as long as each one of us persists in his own individual opinion, persists in thinking that his religious duty is one thing while another believes it to be something else, this is disastrous for Islam. It is disastrous for Islam to have such clergymen. Such clergymen like me are disastrous for Islam. I say these things because an even darker future, God forbid, lies ahead of you.
The Doyen of the Martyr's uprising was also meant for setting up a government
You should give these matters some consideration. Do not spend your time creating religious duties for yourselves. It is the apathetic person who says it is not his religious duty to rise up against tyranny. You have more forces at your disposal than the Doyen of the Martyrs did, and he rose up and opposed the king of his time until he was killed. Had he been apathetic, God forbid, he could have said it was not his religious duty to rise up. His enemies would have been only too happy for him to remain silent so that they could attain their vile goals; they were afraid of his rebelling. But he dispatched Muslim «49» to procure the people's allegiance to him so that he might overthrow that corrupt government and set up an Islamic government. If he had stayed in some corner in Medina and had nothing to do with anyone, and when that wretch «50» told him to pledge allegiance he had done so, God forbid, they would have shown him a great deal of respect, they would have come to kiss his hand and carry him on their shoulders for he was the grandson of the Prophet. And if you sit silently by, you too will be respected, but it will be the kind of respect that is given to a dead saint. A dead saint is respected by everyone, but a living saint or Imam who speaks out has his head cut off. God knows were Imam `Ali to stand up to them today, they would do the same to him. This all stems from following their desires," they eat as the beasts eat": they care not where their nourishment comes from or how it is obtained. As long as their needs and requirements are met, the world may drown in blood and entire peoples may be destroyed. They are animals. Let them know that the fire shall be their abode, that they are despised by the Islamic community and by all alert peoples throughout the world, and that the Muslims are repelled by the very notion of monarchy.
May God strengthen and assist you all. May He awaken you all. May He strengthen and aid Islam, the theological schools and the great `ulama' and make them aware of these evils. It is your duty to pray for Islam and your fellow Muslims- those poor, hungry, wretched people in Iran- for those who suffer imprisonment, torture and banishment, for those who are in hospital and for those innocent girls who had such severe wounds inflicted on them. Pray for them, they are Muslims and they are oppressed.
May God's peace, mercy and blessings be upon you.