"The phenomenon of Velayete Faqih, (the theory which
the Islamic Repubfc is based on), and demergence in the podfical
arena, has been utterly unprecedented and unknown. K remains the
greatest enigma, even in the opinion of many who run the regime,
let alone foreign of lkials and international circles."
THE CONSTITUTIONAL PARADOX OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN
An article by DR. MEHDI HAERI YAZDI, a former student
of Ayatollah Khomeini
PRESENT AND FUTURE PROSPECTS
Since the accession of the Ayatollahs to power in February of
1979, a cataclysmic event that spawned other major events in the
Middle East, the number of Iran specialists and Middle East and
Islam specialists has grown exponentially. In the 16 years since
the so called 'Islamic' revolution in Iran, numerous books and
thousands of articles have been written by these same pundits,
analyzing, dissecting, reviewing and researching the events before,
during and after the revolution. Some of the works are truly valuable
and laudable efforts of some very astute intellectuals in this
field. But, alas, many others are regurgitation of old stories,
events and hypotheses, based more on emotions and conjecture,
rather than empirical evidence or political analysis arising from
the writer's experience with, and understanding of the subject.
The jury is still out on the real causes of the revolution. Various
explanations and reasons have been presented: the speed of the
Shah's development programs and the neglect of religious and cultural
values, the dictatorial nature of the regime, the incarceration
and torture of those opposed to the regime by the secret police,
the westernization and over dependence of the regime on the west.......
These may or may not be some of the apparent causes, but, the
fact of the matter is that there are many aspects of the 'Islamic'
revolution that are still shrouded in secrecy. Take, for instance,
its leaders. We still do not have a definitive biography of the
present 'spiritual leader' Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or President
All Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The official biographies are very
short, and do not cover many events, and leave out long spans
in their lives, their backgrounds, and contacts before the revolution.
Similarly, there are many events and relationships surrounding
Ayatollah Khomeini himself, that are yet to be fully explored
In short, the bulk of the work published about the revolution
has very little political or analytic value. Worse yet, the misuse
of terminology in defining the ideology or theology of the perpetrators
of the 'Islamic' revolution, has created a wealth of misinformation
and misunderstanding about Iran and Islam, and has severely damaged
the images of both Iran and Islam in the West. The word 'fundamentalism'
has become synonymous with the version of Islam the mullahs in
Iran supposedly adhere to. Allow us to examine the root meaning
of this word.
The word 'fundamentalism' is defined by Webster's New World Dictionary
as "religious beliefs based on a literal. interpretation
of everything in the Bible and regarded
as fundamental to Christian faith and morals",
and "(2) the 20th century movement among American Protestants,
based on these beliefs". It has also been defined as "a
militantly conservative movement in American Protestantism originating
around the beginning of the 20th century In opposition to modernist
tendencies and emphasizing as fundamental to Christianity the
literal interpretation and absolute inerrancy of the scriptures,
the imminent and physical resurrection and substitutionary atonement."
Is what we see in Iran Islamic fundamentalism? An in depth study
of the behavior of the regime, both domestically with the treatment
of the Iranian people, and internationally with its support of
terrorism proves otherwise. While Islam is a religion of peace,
tolerance and compassion, the teachings of these clerics is devoid
of any moral or civic virtues. The clerical leaders are seldom
truthful in their pronouncements; violation of the basic rights
of the people has become the domestic policy; squandering of the
national wealth at the expense of the people's well-being has
become the government's priority; and finally, the cruel and barbaric
suppression of any dissent, even among their own followers is
the standing policy. Many of the highest religious authorities
are in disagreement with the ways of this so called 'Islamic'
government. The ones who dare speak out are summarily tried before
special tribunals, defrocked, and imprisoned. It must be noted
that in the world of Shiite Islam, no person or institution has
the authority to demote or defrock a supreme religious leader
a "Marja". Yet, that is exactly what the Khomeini government
did to the acclaimed Marja, the late Ayatollah Shariatmadari.
The behavior and actions of this regime prove that the Islamic
Republic of Iran is neither a republic, nor Islamic or Iranian.
It is a totalitarian state in which all aspects of the people's
lives are either directly controlled or channeled in the direction
the state deems right. It is not Islamic because as noted earlier,
many of their policies and deeds are in total violation of the
teachings of Islam. They have tarnished the image of Islam through
their self-serving policies which have given an aura of primitive
barbarism to a religion that preaches peace and tolerance. And
they are certainly un-Iranian, because their decisions and politics
are anti Iranian - their sole emphasis is on Islam and not Iran.
They have declared nationalism, un-Islamic, and have imprisoned
scores of people for having nationalistic tendencies. Although
Iranian nationalism is a cultural nationalism, based on tolerance
and moderation, the clerics have tried with everything in their
power to de-Persianize the Iranian society, culture, and civilization.
In the past 16 years, their major accomplishments have been to
bankrupt the Iranian economy, demoralize the Iranian society and
have managed to get Iran short listed among the worlds notorious
terrorist states. It is an obvious conclusion that the word 'fundamentalism'
cannot define the nature of the present ruling clique.
THE NEW CRUSADES
During her recent trip to France, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
of Pakistan, in a speech to the Diplomatic Press Association on
November 3, 1994, is quoted as saying:
"There is a wide-spread feeling in Muslim countries that
the West views Islam as Its new enemy, now that communism has
disintegrated". She went on to say the West should not judge
the Muslim countries based on the actions or feelings of their
extremist elements. These are notable statements, but they belie
one inescapable fact. Even though the majority of the Muslim states
do not have any feelings of enmity towards the west - on the contrary,
many of them have very cordial feelings towards and relations
with the west - there are some among them that have preached hate
and discord consistently in the past two decades.
Since the clerics under the leadership of Ayatollah .d Khomeini
took over in Iran 16 years ago, their most important priority
has been to instigate the people of other Muslim states to rebellion
against their governments on one hand, and to incite the Muslim
masses against the west, the U.S. in particular, with the aim
of starting a new round of crusades between the Muslim and the
Judeo-Christian worlds. They have tried to coordinate their efforts
with other extremist elements of the Muslim world in order to
achieve their regressive dreams.
Shortly after the U. S. air attack of the Libyan air base during
the Reagan administration, Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati, the foreign
minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, visited Libya, and in
a joint statement with the Libyans said: the American aggression
is a crusade by the American and the Zionist enemy against Islam
and Muslims ...... Libya and Iran would confront such a crusade
with all their might and seek to mobilize one billion Muslims
in this battle to defend their religion, their sanctities, and
In November 1979, a group of armed men led by a shiite youth
named Mohammed Abdullah occupied the Great Mosque in Mecca while
there were some fifty thousand worshipers praying. Almost immediately,
the rumor mongers went to work. The Islamic Republic of Iran issued
the following announcement over its radio waves across the Moslem
world: "It is not unlikely that the criminal U.S. imperialism
did this. This is an attempt to infiltrate the solid ranks of
Islam. Moslems must not let down their guards, and should expect
this kind of dirty acts by American imperialism and international
Zionism". This led to mass riots in many cities around the
world, notably, in Islamabad, Pakistan, the U.S. embassy was set
on fire, and in Rawalpindi and Lahore the American library and
cultural center and other institutions were attacked. Tens of
Pakistanis lost their lives in these riots. On November 23rd,
in a speech to a group of Pakistani soldiers visiting Iran, Ayatollah
Khomeini said: it is a great joy for us to learn about the uprising
against the U.S. in Pakistan. It is good news for our oppressed
nation...". He further expounded on his view of the state
of the world to a group of 120 Pakistani officers on a pilgrimage
to Qom on January 14, 1980: "We are at war against the infidel
-- take this message with you. I ask all Islamic nations, all
Moslems, all Islamic armies, and all heads of Islamic States to
join the Holy War. There are many enemies to be killed or destroyed.
Jihad must triumph".
As we see, it is not so much the West that has turned against
the Islamic world, as it is the radical fanatical elements of
the Islamic world that are bent on creating a schism through which
they ultimately hope to precipitate a major clash between the
West and the Moslem world.
KHOMEINI-ISM AND ISLAM
We have been witnessing the formation of a new ideology in the
past 16 years in Iran. It is an activist, regressive ideology
that is a compilation of the philosophical thoughts and religious
beliefs of Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini and a handful of people
whose sole aim has been the achievement and prolongation of their
hold on political power at any price, even with resort to assassination
and terrorism. Towards this end, they have no compunction to use
any means necessary, no matter the cost.
They change the religious rules and re-interpret Islam to suit
themselves. The following quote from Sheikh Morteze Motahari in
1979, is a good Illustration: "Islam is a religion of agitation,
revolution, blood, liberation and martyrdom". They use people
as cannon fodder in their quest to expand their power. Human rights
and liberties have no meaning where human life is not sacred.
This is Khomeini-ism, and the system it espouses is called 'Velayate
THEORY OF VELAYATE-FAQIH
The governance of The Supreme Theologian
Velayate Faqih is a claim that rulership belongs to God, to the
prophet, and to the Imams, and by extension, to the supreme theologian,
the "Fagih". The Faqih is the highest religious and
political authority. According to Ayatollah Khomeini, the government
and rulership of God, has been established in Iran, with the Islamic
revolution. And it must also be established in other Muslim countries,
and eventually, throughout the world.
According to Dr. Haeri Yazdi, a religious authority (Mojtahed),
Velayate Faqih means, particularly in its absolute form, that
people as minors and insane, could have no voting rights, nor
could they have any rights whatsoever to participate in the management
of their lives, their property, and affairs of-thsir v*v country.
They ~nust-be, obedient-fio their jurisprudent (Valiye Faqih),
as the guardian of their affairs, and be always ready to lay down
their lives to carry out his command. No one, no institution,
not even the parliament (Majlis), shall disobey the decrees issued
by the religious guardian. The Islamic Republic of Iran, from
its inception, has been based, in theory and practice, on the
philosophy of Velayate Faqih, as enunciated by Ayatollah Khomeini.
It demands absolute obedience of the citizens, and punishes those
who oppose the Islamic Republic. That is why we believe that the
ideology of the Islamic Republic is actually Khomeini-ism, and
not fundamentalism. We believe that Khomeini-ism, in method, intelligence
operations, establishment of committees, and summary executions,
torture, and repression, follows closely the methods pioneered
by Lenin and the Bolshevics. As Dr. Haeri Yazdi, the greatest
living authority on Islamic theology, philosophy and jurisprudence
says, "since the inception of this novel regime
in Iran, it must be said, without a doubt, that the present system,
both in its theory and in its constitutional enactments, is so
fundamentally contradictory, and illogical that its possibility
of existence and legitimacy is absolutely inconceivable. As such,
the Islamic Republic under Velayate Faqih, is a contradictory
statement that conspicuously demonstrates its own negation and
lack of rationality and legitimacy".
THE ROLE OF THE GOVERNMENTS OF ISLAMIC COUNTRIES
The Iranian people have been the first victims of Khomeini-ism.
Whether or not there will be others is still an open question.
It was obvious from the beginning that the aim of this movement
vu as to expand internationally. Its arrival at the scene was not
caused by the policies of the old regime, and, its animosity towards
the west and the U.S., likewise, was not based on their support
for the Shah. This movement consists of a group of professional
revolutionaries whose primary weapon today is religion, their
primary tactic terrorism, and their primary target, other Muslim
governments. These same governments are turning a blind eye towards
these events, or, worse, are trying to appease these terrorist,
hoping to buy them off with money or other favors.
The lesson that the Iranian people have learned is that once in
power, this group systematically eliminates all opposition, systematically
eliminates human rights, and systematically squanders the country's
wealth through outright embezzlement, economic mismanagement and
financing of international terrorism.
Almost all governments of Muslim countries today are threatened.
On a recent visit to Malaysia and Indonesia, President Rafsanjani
took along 4 generals of the Revolutionary Guard and Intelligence.
While he was negotiating trade treaties, they were visiting mosques
inciting the faithful. And it will not stop there. Any government
that -thinks it can work with and appease fanatical 'fundamentalist
groups is abrogating its mandate to serve and protect its people.
In the name of God, they will take over the lives, the liberties,
and the property of the people, and eliminate anything and everything
standing in their way. This was true for Iran, It will be true
for Algeria, and any other government that refuses to confront
The West has also had its share of blame for not confronting
this movement meaningfully to end its subversive and terrorist
activities worldwide. At times there have been mixed signals,
from the western countries, which have served to embolden and
further empower these fanatical groups. A case in point is the
report that the U.S. government advised the Algerian government
to open a dialogue and find ways to cooperate with the "fundamentalist
group that have had the full support, both financial and moral,
of the Khomeini-ist regime in Tehran.
Unfortunately, there are some 'specialists' who still believe
that the Rafsanjani government can moderate and reform itself,
and that there is still the possibility of normalizing relations
between Iran and the U.S. They do not seem to understand that
the Khomeini-ist clerics have but one ideology. For 16 years,
they have been following this ideology, at the price of domestic
social and economic reforms, and do not intend to change their
strategy. If they have differences among themselves, they are
of a tactical nature. Presently, as before, all the resources
of the country have been mobilized for the advancement of this
These specialists must abandon such self-delusions, and spare
the world a further period of uncertainty and instability. They
must recognize that it is the Iranian people that have rejected
this regime. If they have any doubts about the behavior and conduct
of the clerical regime, it would be worthwhile to follow the current
court hearings in Paris about the assassination of the late Dr.
Shapour Bkhtiar. Even the French government has been embarrassed
about what has been revealed regarding the direct -connection
between the Iranian government and the assassins of Dr. Bakhtiar.
The most plausible and obvious solution for other governments
- the U.S. in particular - appears to be the support of democratic
elements inside and outside Iran. Forces that are willing to assist
the U.S. in formulating a policy that could promote democracy
and human rights in Iran and the return of stability to the region.
The world should know that the great majority of the Iranian people
have been longing for freedom. They would like nothing more than
the replacement of the clerical regime with a truly representative
and enlightened government that would guarantee their security
and work toward their prosperity. They would also like to establish
a friendly and mutually beneficial relationship with the American
What they need and seek from the United States and the world,
is moral support in order to be able to take their fate in their
own hands, and put an end to domestic and international terrorism.
Ultimately, a friendly, democratic government that has the mandate
of he people must be restored to power in Tehran, if peace and
stability are to return to Iran and the Middle East.
statement were circulated around the country, and to the foreign
press. It was broadcast by the VOA, the BBC and Radio Israel.
The impact was so strong that Ayatollah Janati Ataie, a member
of the 'Council of Guardians', felt compelled to denounce the
signatories as foreign agents.
FOCUS ON IRAN Applauds the courageous statement of these 134
writers against censorship and clerical repression and dictatorship.
Poets and writers are the light cavalry of the struggle for national
liberation. They provide the intellectual electricity to power
the national liberation and freedom movement. When literary figures
charge in, many others will follow. Indeed, we believe this to
be a turning point in the national campaign for freedom and democracy.
The Publisher and Editors of Focus On Iran welcome your correspondence
We have reprinted here extracts from some of the letters which
have been received since our last issue.
"I was pleased to see your acknowledgment of the Zoroastrian
religious connection of the Faravahar symbol and your description
of its significance for all mankind....
"I applaud your effort to inform readers about the ... ...abuse
of religious political power in Iran, and I hope that ..... your
information ......will result in a free Iran.
M. Bhujwala, California
"Your noble efforts in regaining the international dignity
of Iran are admirable. It is upon the leaders of the exiled Iranian
community to expose the atrocious deeds of the Islamic Republic...
Remaining aloof from the future of our nation is not only undignified,
but it is also detrimental and un-Iranian." ... and M
I. North Carolina
STOP PRESS STOP PRESS STOP PRESS
THE COURAGEOUS STATEMENT OF 134 IRANIAN WRITERS
"ANY PEN CAN STAB ANY KING"
In late October of this year, 134 of the most prominent poets,
novelists, playwrights, and essayists, in a strong statement, criticized
the government of President Rafsanjani for censorship, repression,
and violation of Human rights. They demanded that the gooemment
allow complete freedom of expression, and end all forms of censorship.
Signed copies of the
Iran's best known and popular writer and historian Mr. Saidi Sirjani
was officially reported dead of a heart attack in an unidentified
Tehran hospital, after 8 months of imprisonment and reported torture.
He was arrested March 14, and had been in custody ever since.
The Iranian Nation Party reports that according to informed sources,
Mr. Sirjani was killed by the regime, and voiced fears over the
faith of another prominent opponent of the clerics, Gen. Azizollah
Amir Rahimi, who has been jailed under similar charges, and is
being held in a hospital ward for psychiatric evaluations'.