Two Parallel Developments in Islamic History: Corrupt and Ruthless Hypocrites Rulers and an Authentic Shi’a Movement

By Mansoureh Tajik for the Saker Blog

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim, “In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

I contemplated at length how to frame, what to include in, and what to exclude from the final installments of the essay series that have explored the foundation of Iran’s system of governance –anchored in the concepts of Imamat and Wilayat in Shi’a Islam. I hope to bring the series to a conclusion in such a way that the significance and urgent role of this system in contemporary politics are conveyed much more explicitly than before. Taking shortcuts in explaining complex subjects is unproductive for certain but so is protracted renditions. A rock || moi || A hard place.

In any case, I would conceptualize the crux of this and previous six articles (see Here1, Here2, Here3, Here4, Here5, and Here6) as follows: these articles revolve around two of the most vexing questions in all human societies: the question of direction and the question of leadership. That is, what direction are we as collectives, nations, or communes (not merely as individuals) taking in our lives? And, who are those best qualified, based on proven and honest records, to choose to lead us in that direction?

Embedded in the question of social direction is matters of collective vision, collective goals and sound strategies to achieve the goals and realize the vision. For true Muslim believers – as it is the case with other true believers in God and the Hereafter – our collective vision and goals are not limited to this material world but extend beyond “Here” well into the “Hereafter” and our horizon is quite limitless. Thus, our direction as well as our leaders must have the capacity and be fit to fulfill the tasks of the Here and the Hereafter both. For non-believers of the Hereafter, well, they could define the direction of their evolution and the quality of their leaders as they see fit so long as what and how they fulfill their goals do not create a public nuisance and limit our ability to realize our goals and vision as well.

As I have mentioned in previous installments, for Shi’a Muslims, the relationship of leadership and direction with the collective (society of people), that is, the relationship of Wilayat and Imamat with Ummat, is not a linear, top-down, leader-follower arrangement but a mutually-supportive interaction based on authentic and sincere submission to Will of God by both the leader and the followers on earth.

Teachings of Quran make our strategy quite clear: the strategy is I-Sirat al-Mustaqim, the Straight Path (attributes of the Straight Path are well defined within Quran). So, too, is the qualifications of leadership or those whom we must choose to guide us strategically and lead us in that Path. Specific Verses of Quran explicitly define and describe them as: Alladhina an’amta alayhim, “those upon whom God has bestowed His Favor.” Many verses throughout Quran describe their characteristics and we are able to identify them with their deeds and behavior. The sort of people we must avoid and reject as our leaders is also spelled out. They are of two types: 1) Al-Maqdhubi ‘alayhim, those who have earned God’s Wrath; and 2) I-Dhallin, those who have gone astray.[1] Again, many verses of Quran and examples describe the sort of people who have earned God’s Wrath and the sort who have gone astray.

Imam Ali (Allayhu-Salaam) had a proven record of someone “upon whom God had bestowed His Favor.” However, a majority among Muslims, dazzled by excesses and worldly fluff and stuff, abandoned him to their own detriment. Immediately after his martyrdom on the 21st of holy month of Ramadan, year 40 HQ [661 AD], that majority turned its back to Imam Hasan (AS), another one of Alladhina an’amta alayhim [those upon whom God had bestowed His Favor] and entrusted their fate and affairs instead to a coalition of 1+1: Al-Maqdhubi ‘alayhim [those who have earned God’s Wrath] + I-Dhallin [those who had gone astray]. Outstanding hypocrites ruled, clueless useful idiots aided, abetted, and cheered; safety-seekers remained silent.

Throughout Islam’s history, hypocrites, no matter in what clothing they have appeared, be they attired in khalifah garbs, or clerics robes, or checkered suits, or black onyx cufflinks, are those who clearly and unambiguously violated God’s commands while claiming to be adherents to His Order. Hypocrites are indeed top contenders on a list of those who earn God’s Wrath.[2]

From the martyrdom of Imam Ali (AS) onward, we observe two chronologically parallel but cardinally divergent developments in Islam. One relates to the establishment of ruthless, corrupt, and transgressing regimes and dynasties decorated with hypocrisy and armed with oppression under the rubric of Islam, the religion that expressly forbids and categorically rejects both hypocrisy and oppression.

The other is the formation of a Shi’a Nihzat or movement guided and successively led by eleven Imams succeeding Imam Ali (AS) and faqihs, as informed and pious surrogates, according to Shi’a Twelve-Imami. The Shi’a Nihzat (movement) has aimed to accomplish two major tasks: 1) Prevent deviance in Islam and teachings of Quran; and 2) To return the leadership of Muslim Ummah to the rightful Wali or Imam, the last of whom is Imam Mahdi (Allayhu-Salaam wa Salawaat). And the latter task is not accomplish until and unless a given condition is fulfilled:

“For sure, God does not change the condition of any people/nation unless and until they change their own conditions.” Quran, Surah (Ra’ad), Verse 11:12-21.

The lessons from the above verse for case examples used in this essay series are twofold: One is that people must change that which is within them related to their Nafs that makes them such dimwits and so vulnerable to manipulation and hypocrisy, and the other is for people themselves to take practical and sound steps (i.e. not wait for others to do things for them) to reform their own condition. Otherwise, even if a thousand wise, pious, and infallible imams are sent by God for every generation, they would all be killed and people would remain none the wiser.

We briefly examine the two developments in Islam in this essay.

Hypocrisy, Oppression, and Aggression under Rubric of Islam

Several corrupt dynasties ruled over Muslim lands under the rubric of Islam using ideologies, methods, and tools that were exactly opposite of what Islam had come to dismantle and eradicate. Some of the most notable and well-known among those dynasties are Bani Umayyah, Bani Abbas, Fatimi, and Ottomans. Each dynasty outdid the works of its predecessors and peers in dishonesty and malfeasance.

Ayatullah Khamenei referenced these rulers in an address to a public audience from various segments of the Iranian society as follows:

“Over twelve, thirteen centuries, in this very Islamic world, rulers came to power who would invoke the name of the great Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Allihi Wasallam) with such augustness; they claimed themselves to be khalifah of the Prophet (SAWAW)! If someone would dare to tell them, ‘you are NOT the khalifah of the Prophet,’ they would go so far as to kill him. They would say, ‘we are the khalifah of the Prophet!’ This was the case from Bani Umayyah khalifahs to Bani Abbas khalifahs who ruled between five to six hundred years to Fatimi khalifahs in Egypt and North Africa, and later the Ottomans who ruled up until this World War I in Asia Minor – that is the current Turkey where the capital of their rule was, and all these Arab countries were almost completely under their rule.”

“All of them called themselves the khalifahs of the Prophet. Some went even a step further and call themselves khalifatullah! ‘We are God’s khalifahs! We are a substitute for God!’ But what were their deeds and conduct? Their deeds were along the same exact line as ruthless and unjust kings who had been there before them or those who were their contemporaries at some other corner of the world. After them and to this date, these sorts of rulers have existed all over the world. In name, it was khilafat of the Prophet (SAWAW) but in deeds, conduct, and behavior, it was something else entirely. Who exactly were these people? What would be an appropriate name for them? Hypocrites. That is someone who claims something, who promises one thing, who raises the flag of something, but in his behavior, in his deed and in his path, he does not see himself bound to and responsible for that promise. This is how one becomes a hypocrite.”

“Do we want to become like this? Do we want to hold up Alawi [pertaining to Imam Ali] flag of Wilayat and the flag of the rule of Ali, and in the name of following the path of Amir al-Mu’minin but align our rules, pair up our governance with schools of thought that are completely opposite and a hundred percent antagonistic to Ali’s path, Ali’s thought, and Amir al-Mu’minin’s logic?! Well, some deviate a hundred percent [from Ali’s path], some ninety percent and some eighty percent and for some, the very foundation of their work is something entirely different. Therefore, we, more than anyone else, must be duty-bound to know and understand Ali’s model and standards and set those as our benchmark.”[3, 4]

I would like to pause and reiterate a point which is obvious but cannot be emphasized enough: The Leader’s statement here and elsewhere referencing historical events are not meant to merely reminisce history but to also serve as warnings and words of caution, here and now, to people and the government officials in Iran (and anywhere else in the Shi’a world where his words and speeches carry weight and have currency). He alerts us to be cautious, to be constantly mindful and vigilant in order not to deviate from the path of Imam Ali (AS) and Ahl-ul-Bayt (Pure Household of the Prophet) while claiming to be Shi’a, followers of Imam Ali.

History books are replete with examples of wickedness these dynasties and khalifahs brought upon Muslims and other people. Their conducts against the Pure Household of the Prophet (SAWAW) and the Shi’a are exceptionally brutal since they viewed the Shi’a as the greatest threat to their legitimacy. Why? Because the greatest threat to hypocrites are those who also know the teachings very well and are not afraid to stand up, make other people aware, and take action.

We review a few case examples from the most well-known khalifahs and their modus operandi.

Bani Umayyah. After the martyrdom of Imam Ali (AS), Muawiah made excellent use of bereavement-shock moment and tightened his grip on power and solidified his position as khalifah. He expanded Umayyad dynasty’s control and announced himself to be the khalifah. These changes occurred, of course, with the help of none other than some of those who claimed to have the companionship of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Allihi Wasallam) as their most significant credentials. Well, if mere companionship could have fundamentally changed the nature of beings, what wealth we could have gained by simply putting metal craps next to gold bars.

We could divide the rest of the Muslim population into three general categories: 1) those who were seduced, bribed, and coopted using silver, gold, status, and material comfort; 2) those who were bullied and intimidated by means of violence and brutality into submission; and 3) those who fought and resisted, sometimes overtly and sometimes covertly, to continue the path of Imam Ali (AS), that is, the Shi’a and Shi’a-influenced Sunni schools of thought (e.g., Hanafi, Hanbali, etc.), or the Shi’a leaders and activists.

Umayyad dynasty lasted for 88 years (from 662 AD to 750 AD) and its rulers followed a dual-containment policy: within the Islamic territories, the rulers crushed uprisings and dissent by Muslims, particularly but not exclusively the Shi’a believers, and outside these territories, they attacked various nations and captured their territories from central Asia to Africa, looted their wealth and used inhumane and brutal means to keep the local populations subdued and their own treasuries overflowing with spoils of unjust wars of aggression. These are textbook behavior of ruthless rulers in human history in the West or the East. Nothing out of ordinary and nothing unique and exceptional. So, progenies of Romans, Westerns, and Crusading cultures living in glass houses, please refrain from throwing stones at Muslims.

Since these khalifahs rightfully perceived our Imams and their true followers, the Shi’a, a serious threat to their legitimacy and an obstacle to their impunity to do whatever, wherever, and to whomever in the name of Islam, they elevated harassment and killing of the Imams and their followers to an art form. House arrests, near-complete surveillance of the Imams and identification and killing of anyone they suspected to be a follower, poising and killing of one Imam after another are only a few examples of the path they took. Except for the third Imam, Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions who were martyred in Karbala on the day of Ashura (about this, I have written in the past), the second Imam, Imam Hasan Mujtaba (AS), the fourth Imam, Imam Sajjad, and the fifth Imam, Imam Muhammad Baqir were all poisoned and martyred under the order of Umayyad rulers.

At the same time, Umayyads went about transgressing against other people and acquiring lands and territories in the name of Islam. They led astray the hearts and minds of the majority of the Muslim population who were ignorant about true essence and spirit of Islam and Quran and deceived them into thinking that they were actually expanding Islam and Quran, in teachings of which end never ever justifies the means and eternal damnation is the consequence of their transgressing and oppressive behavior.

In 91 HQ (710 AD), when Umayyad army reached Taliqan (a city currently in northeastern part of current Afghanistan), “They began fighting the people and killed masses. They formed a queue 4 Farsakh of one long line of people and killed them all.”[5] Farsakh is from Persian word Farsang which is a unit to measure distance (equal to 4.8 kilometer) and is defined as “the distance a horse would walk in an hour.”[6]

In capturing Gorgan, Tabari writes, “In the war with Gorgan and Behshar, the Iranians asked them for amnesty under the condition they do not kill. They were granted amnesty. However, when the city collapsed and the victors entered the city, they killed everyone except for one.”[5] Tabari further writes about Yazid Ibn Mihlab, one of the commanders in that war,

Yazid [Ibn Mihlab] had sworn to kill from the people of the region so many and spill so much of their bloods that one could turn a wheat mill with which he could turn wheat into flour from which they would cook bread to eat. If this did not happen, then he would not be known to have fulfilled his pledge.[7]

Above examples are extracted directly from books and sources well-accepted by our Sunni brothers. What might appear quite puzzling though is this: what happened that most Muslims went along with these vile abominations of the so-called khalifahs? They had the Quran before them. They still had examples of the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWAW) before them. How could they have possibly deviated so severely and so quickly? Put it differently, how did these khalifahs succeed in legitimating themselves before the people?

One of the most effective soft weapons used by Mu’aviah and Bani Ummayah rulers to legitimize their position and subjugate the majority of Muslims was fatalism. Their propaganda machine worked non-stop to promote the idea that everything that happens to humans and their societies (good and bad) are God’s Will and determination, there is no way out of it, and efforts to counter it is tantamount to going against the Will of God.

Mu’aviah and his successors selectively picked verses of Quran and self-servingly interpreted out of context, fabricated hadith and sayings and attributed those to Prophet Muhammad (SAWAW) to induce this idea that their reign and everything they do is nothing but God’s Will and determination and one should not oppose God’s Will and this fate. Any protest, uprising, and opposition to their rules was billed as opposing God’s Will and those who did so were deemed to have committed a grave sin and must be killed.

Qaemi & Sadeqi, two contemporary scholars of culture and history of Islam, examine the role Bani Ummayah played in spreading fatalism and determinism among Muslims. Narrating a scene recorded by Muslim historian, Ibn al-Athir, they explain,

 “When Yazid witnessed the decapitated head of Hazrat Aba Abdullah (AS) [i.e. Imam Hussain (AS)] in front of him, he turned to the crowd and said, ‘Do you know why Hussain has fallen into this condition while his ancestor and mother were better than my ancestor and mother? Because Hussain had not read this verse from Quran: ‘Say, O Allah! The Master of the kingdom, You give the kingdom to whom You Will, and You take the kingdom away from whom You Will, and You give honor to whom You Will, and You humiliate whom You Will. In Your Hands is all the virtue. Surely, You have power over all things.’[8]

“With this, Yezid was stating that if Imam Hussain (AS) had read this verse, he would not have led and uprising against his rule because ‘this position and power has been granted to me by God and it has been God’s Will that I reach the position of khilafat over Muslims. Therefore, Hussain Ibn Ali went against this verse in Quran and God’s Will. His killing is therefore rightful and necessary not based on my decision but based in God’s Command and Will.’”[9]

A sick and twisted cabal. A tragic outcome for humanity. May God curse all those who knowingly and deliberately distorted His Commands and paved the way for the martyrdom of Sayyd-u-Shohada (The Master of all Martyrs). Amen.

As stated, Bani Ummayah dynasty ruled for 88 years. A historical note for those interested in the history of Byzantine, the first siege of Constantinople (674-678 AD) and the second siege of Constantinople (717-718 AD) both occurred during Bani Ummayah. This dynasty was dismantled and its army was defeated by Behzadan Pour Vandad, nicknamed Abu Muslim Khorasani, an Iranian commander and leader of a fierce and active militia group, Siaah Jamegan [Black Attired], apparently fighting against injustices and atrocities of Bani Ummayah rulers. However, his efforts amounted to replacing one corrupt and ferocious dynasty and hypocrite rulers with another, the Abbasid khalifahs.

Once again, a coalition of 1+1: Al-Maqdhubi ‘alayhim [those who have earned God’s Wrath] + I-Dhallin [those who had gone astray] gave way to another coalition of similar nature. Outstanding hypocrites ruled, clueless useful idiots aided, abetted, and cheered; safety-seekers remained silent.

Abbasids. This dynasty, succeeded Bani Ummayah and ruled for 764 years from 750 to 1517 AD with a 3-year gap from 1258-1261 AD. Within about one hundred years of their rule (dubbed as the 1st Abbasid Era or the Golden Era), six Imams of Shi’a Twelve-Imami were martyred by the order of Abbasid rulers and attempts at assassinating the 12th Imam, Imam Mahdi (AS) were unsuccessful and his occultation, the Minor Occultation and the Major Occultation, both occurred during the rule of Al-Mu’tamid Abbasid.

Abbasids came to power with the help of the Iranian fighters in Khorasan. However, immediately after solidifying their position, they killed one after another of the key figures who had helped them come to power. Very quickly, multiple uprisings and revolts erupted there and elsewhere against Abbasid. Factors that contributed to these uprisings included Iranians’ outrage with how the members of the household of the Prophet (SAWAW) had been treated, oppressive rules and corruptions that continued during the Abbasids, killing of Abu Muslim under the order of khalifah, nationalistic sentiments, and forceful confiscation of people’s land and possession by corrupt local rulers among other factors.

The 2nd Abbasid Era was replete with more corruption, more revolts, additional forced extraction of ever-increasing taxes, inter-fiefdom fights and lootings, wasteful and luxury living, depravity, and more by the elites. From without, forty years of sustained attacks by Mongol tribes led to a dismantled power in Bagdad in the hands of Hulagu Khan. During the 3rd Abbasid Era, Abbasid khalifahs were only a figurehead controlled and manipulated by the sultan du jour.

Ottomans. The rulers of Ottoman dynasty are the most well-known to the readers of this blog. I do not wish to take a superficial and uncritical look at how Ottomans ruled nor would I care to have a “revolutionary” look at Ottomans’ geostrategic role in global commerce, nor how in Sultan Selim, Sultan Erdogan might find inspirations for a neo-Ottoman resurgence. For that, you could refer to a couple of other articles in this very blog or elsewhere in mainstream history books.

For the purpose of the overall theme of this essay series though, I would like to present examples that expose the hypocrisies of the Ottomans with respect to Islam, Muslims, and teachings of Quran. In other words, I aim to expose the old coalition of 1+1: Al-Maqdhubi ‘alayhim [those who have earned God’s Wrath] + I-Dhallin [those who had gone astray] and demonstrate how once again outstanding hypocrites ruled and clueless useful idiots aided, abetted, and cheered in the name of Islam. Why? Because unless people, not all but a good majority of them, if they are not hit over the head over and over again with these hard facts, if they are not forced to take a sober and critical look at history, they are bound to follow yet another megalomaniac neo-crackpot hypocrite leader in the name of Islam heading straight to hell of their own making.

The Ottomans gained power and control of territories mainly due to three factors: 1) their fierce and ruthless militarism, 2) weakened and discombobulated Seljuqi and Kharazmshahi powers due to internal corruption and feuds and external attacks by Mongol tribes to their east; and 3) severely weakened Byzantine Empire due to the Crusades, internal divisions and civil wars, attacks by Seljuqi, abandonment by other Christian factions to their west, among other factors. So, the Ottomans seized the moment, took territories from their east, west, north, and south one segment at a time, and ruled for 623 years from 1299 to 1922 AD.

As an example, in 1452 AD, Sultan Mehmet II captured Constantinople and entered into the great Orthodox Church, Hagia Sophia. This church was an important place of worship and religious significance to great many Christians. Had he been an authentic follower of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWAW), he should have respected, preserved, and, in case of any damages, repaired the damages, and finally returned the custody of this place of worship to its rightful Christian custodians.

 “If it were not for Allah’s repelling some people by others, certainly synagogues, churches, mosques, and places where God’s name is commemorated frequently, would have been destroyed. Most certainly, Allah will support those who support His cause. Most surely, God is Powerful, Alighty.” Quran, Chapter 22 (Hajj), Verse 40: 12-35.

Sultan Mehmet, instead, went against the teachings of Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (SAWAW) and expropriated the church. The hypocrites of the East cloaked in khalifah attire were trying to make grand symbolic gestures to the crusaders of the West. The two spoke the same language and understood each other rather well. Birds of a feather…

I must also add a note here that the Ottomans were not even that good a strategic thinkers. They lacked foresight even with worldly matters of power and long-term control. Otherwise, instead of expropriating Hagia Sophia, they could have helped and supported the church as an independent center of influence in the world of Christians. Their motive in doing so would have of course gone beyond obeying God’s Command to obtain His Satisfaction which is considered shirk. I am just saying that they were not that good a long-term strategic thinkers by worldly standards and measures either.

In any case, as believers in Islam and teachings of Quran, those teachings are the only legitimate golden standards based on which Muslims must measure the conducts of those in charge of their leadership, any time, any place, and in any event.

Another example from the Ottomans concerns an abhorrent practice they made into law with respect to the family members. In “Canon of brother-killing by Sultan Mehmet the mechanisms of executing family members,” the historian Imami Khoei writes:

“In general, many of those who seized power and ruled over people anywhere in the world believed their reign to be a holy duty bestowed upon their family by God and after their death, the power would be transferred to another member of their family. This was the fate determined by God. Any member of that family could, therefore, use any means to seize that power and there would not be any issue in the way of their legitimacy. As such, after a ruler’s death, conflict among his potential successors would lead to disintegration of power and territory. Sultan Mehmet made into a law this policy that after his death any Ottoman progeny succeeding him had the right to kill his brothers in order to ensure a cohesive Islamic system. It was based on this rule that killing brothers became a law [not just a tradition] among Ottoman rulers for a long time.”[11]

Alas. Backlash and objections to the above law during the reign of Mehmet III in 17th Century led to an abolishment of that law. However, that law was replaced with another one that allowed for imprisonment of family members for life in a secluded area called “cage”[11] until the time of their natural or mysterious death. A thorn by any other name is still a transgressing prick.

“The killing of one person, who did not commit murder or vast corruption, is the same as killing of all human beings; and the saving of one life is the same as the saving of lives of all human beings. Indeed, Our Messengers went to them with profound Messages but most of them continued to transgress.” Quran, Chapter 5 (Maidah), Verse 32:9-40.

Another Ottoman ruler who is Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s role model, Sultan Salim, killed his two older brothers and sent his ill father (Bayezid II) on a long journey to exile to have removed him as an obstacle to his rule. His father suffered a painful death before reaching his destination. Sultan Salim, as someone who called himself khalifah and a champion to defend Islam, took to heart the following Verses in Quran and led Muslims by example:

“And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents.” Quran, Surah 46 (Ahqaf), Verse 15:1-4.

“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful and kind to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, do not say to them any word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them kindly and with honor.” Quran, Surah 17 (Isra), Verse 24.

“Worship Allah and do not put anyone besides Him in worship. And do good to your parents, your kinsfolk, orphans, the homebound poor, the neighbor who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer, and those whom your right hands possess. Surely, Allah does not like those who are arrogant and boastful.” Quran, Surah 4 (Nisa), Verse 36.

“And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks to Me and to your parents. To Me is the final return.” Quran, Surah 31 (Luqman), Verse 14.

“And remember when We took a covenant from the Children of Israel, (saying): ‘Worship none but Allah and be dutiful and kind to your parents, and to your kinfolk, and to orphans and the homebound poor, and speak kindly to people, and establish the Salaat prayer, and give Zakat.’ Then, you turned back except for a few of you. Most of you are backsliders.” Quran, Surah 2 (Baqarah), Verse 83.

Having ardently embraced Quran’s teachings with respect to his parents and family members, Sultan Selim prompted Sunni muftis to pronounce Shi’a Muslims as corrupt infidels killing of whom became a religious duty. In a short span of time, he massacred more than 40,000 Shi’a in Ottoman territories.[12, 13] Sultan Salim also made direct military confrontation with Safavid dynasty into a long-term policy of the Ottomans against Shi’a Iran that continued on well into the nineteenth century.

I could write tens of essay each containing numerous case examples from history that clearly demonstrate how half-wits with dreams of world domination invoked the name of Islam (and other true religions of God for that matter) to deceive the masses in order to further their worldly aims. I could also bring equal number of examples or more from other religions of God. But for those who are willing to listen and pay attention, a few is enough. For those who are not willing to listen, even thousands of such examples fall on deaf ears. One fact remains constant though:

“For sure, God does not change the condition of any people/nation unless and until they change their own conditions.” Quran, Surah (Ra’ad), Verse 11:12-21.

Our lesson here is twofold: One, people must change that which is within them and makes them so vulnerable to manipulation and propels them to become cheerleaders of hypocrisy. Two, people must take practical and sound steps to reform their own condition. Some one hundred twenty four thousands Prophets of God and eleven pious Imams later, in one side of the world, there are still people who gather to cheer a hypocrite whose role model is another criminal hypocrite with genocidal tendencies in the name of Islam. In the other side of the world, a half-drunk gamblers and depraved casino owners become the champions of the Christian right and demented and corrupt pedophiles become the guardians of the liberal left, whatever that means. And in the middle of the two sits a people who have not decided whether they are a race, a tribe, a religion, or whatever but they know for a fact they are the “chosen ones” entitled to everything and anything the material world can give them.

Shi’a Nihzat [Movement]

Let’s journey forward in time before we take a trip back again. About a month before the victory of the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979, when Imam Khomeini was in exile and temporarily residing in Neauphle-le-Château, an Italian reporter asked Imam during an interview the following question:

“In an Islamic society, which social organs must guarantee political decision making and equality among individuals and prevent a dominating-dominated relationship among people and similarly control those who make decisions within the system? Our historical experience teaches us that people’s power is enacted through a parliament and even if the parliament is elected freely, its power is limited and wanes.”

I do not intend to discuss the number of unquestioned assumptions the question packed. Imam Khomeini’s answer is what I wish to highlight. We must remember that the exchange occurred more than 42 light years away and around the time God had been declared dead by the west, as discussed in previous essays, and the West and the East were both sailing the oceans in Titanic and shouting, “I am the king of the world.”

To the Italian reporter, Imam Khomeini answered:

 “In today’s world, which is said to be an industrial world, the leaders of thought want to manage human societies like a big industrial factory whereas societies are built by humans who have spiritual dimensions and ever-evolving esoteric souls. Islam, with its rules and regulations for social, economic, and other aspects, is founded on human development contingent upon a belief in God. In guiding the society, therefore, it guides the humanity toward excellence and happiness from this given direction. If belief in God and performing deeds to gain God’s satisfaction and His satisfaction alone entered into all aspects of social, political, economic, and other dimensions of human life, then the most complex problems of today’s world would be easily solved. Today’s world is trapped in this dead-end path and still refuses to accept the guidance of the Prophets of God (Peace be upon them). Eventually though, the humanity has no other way out but to surrender.”[14]

It appears the reporter’s mind was caught up in mental battles that limited his vision. The trees were preventing him from seeing the forest. Imam Khomeini’s response was meant to liberate the poor reporter’s mind from short-term tactics and expand his horizon with a sound strategy. The follow-up question the reporter asked shows how Imam’s response went way over the reporter’s head. He asked,

 “In what ways do you think it is possible to decentralize economic power not only between the poor and the rich but even among different classes of production like workers and managers?”

The reporter must have been thinking he was interviewing Marx, Lenin, or someone like them. To that question Imam responded,

<blockquote> “A society without God and without belief in God and without deeds for the cause of God becomes so entangled with relationship problems between workers and proprietors that even when it attempts to solve a problem, it creates even a bigger problem in solving which, it sees itself in a dead end! In a society, if things get established and evaluated based on the standards of Islam and true belief, then such problems would not emerge.” </blockquote>

(To be continued, God Willing.)


[1] Quran Karim, Chapter 1 (Fatihah), Verse 6-7: “Guide us to the Straight Path. The Path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have earned Your Wrath, nor of those who have gone astray.

[2] Khatibi A (1391). “Comparative study of criteria for social classification and three first Surah in Al-Quran Al-Karim.” Quarterly of Interdisciplinary Quranic Studies, 3rd Year, No. 1, Spring/Summer ’91, Pages 55-80.

[3] Sayyed Ali Khamenei. “The Opposition of Claims with Conducts in Bani Ummayyah, Bani Abbas, Fatimi, and Ottoman Khalifahs.’”1381/6/30 [Sept. 21, 2002]. Accessed online at:

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