32nd Anniversary of Demise Of Imam Khomeini (R.A)
3rd June 2021 (22nd night of Shawaal 1442)
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Imam Khomeini (r.a) left this world for the eternal abode 32 years ago, on 4 June 1989. Speaking about him is easy on the one hand, while difficult on the other. It is easy because many of us experienced the impact and qualities of this man in our lifetime. Also, the influence he had on the lives of the people across the world.
At the same time, it is really difficult to speak about this giant of our times, where so many aspects and angles of his personality remain unknown. There is no doubt, Imam Khomeini (r.a) was the manifestation of his grand ancestors. He hails from the family of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and the qualities, attributes and characteristics of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) have manifested in his character and personality.
As I said, there are so many angles to explore, but I would like to draw attention to a few salient points, namely:
- Imam Khomeini (r.a) and his unwavering trust in Almighty Allah (SWT) at all times
- Imam Khomeini (r.a) and his fearlessness guided by Taqwa
- Imam Khomeini (r.a) revived Islam to give it political relevance
- Imam Khomeini (r.a) inspired hope for South Africa’s liberation struggle
- Imam Khomeini (r.a) presented Islam as the progressive solution for true liberation
- Imam Khomeini (r.a) presented relevant Islam which is not an expired product
- Imam Khomeini (r.a) emerged as the true democrat respecting the people’s wish
- The Islam of Imam Khomeini (r.a) remains strong through the will of the people
- We are all deeply indebted to this visionary old man
IMAM KHOMEINI (R.A) AND HIS UNWAVERING TRUST IN ALMIGHTY ALLAH (SWT)
This aspect of his personality is hardly exposed to the world, where he is largely presented as a political and social leader within a religious paradigm. That being said, there are so many religious leaders, but this complete conviction and certainty of this man in his Lord (SWT), ruled over his personality so much, such that he did not see anything in this world other than Almighty Allah (SWT). This is not an exaggeration about his level of faith.
Imam Khomeini (r.a) was among those people who are favoured by Almighty Allah (SWT), as explained in Hadith, that when Allah (SWT) wants to bestow a special favour on someone, then He inspires in that person surety and ultimate conviction. Imam Khomeini (r.a) was one such servant of Almighty Allah (SWT) whom we can identify with in relation to this Hadith.
Therefore, Imam Khomeini (r.a) never showed the smallest fear in front of the powers of this world. He never had the smallest of hesitation, as can be noted from the amazing confidence he would speak with. Imam Khomeini (r.a) did not doubt when spoke about the victory of truth, as promised by Almighty Allah (SWT).
The world is expected to fear the superpowers of this world, but Imam Khomeini (r.a) showed a clear disregard for them, because the omnipotence of Almighty Allah (SWT) enlightened his internal existence so much, such that he looked at the superpowers of this world as trivial.
Therefore, with this level of trust and confidence, he made that historical statement back then, saying that never ever will America have the courage to attack Iran! This is the courage of Imam Khomeini (r.a) while the rest of the world submit to the superpowers!
IMAM KHOMEINI (R.A) AND HIS FEARLESSNESS GUIDED BY TAQWA
32 years have passed since he departed from this world, and the Islamic Republic, which is his brainchild, is still standing tall and proud. How many American presidents have come and gone into the dustbin of history, with all their rhetoric?
We now also see how the bloodthirsty, war criminal Prime Minister of illegitimate Israel is also being relegated to the dustbin of history! While he has always been baying for the blood of the Islamic Republic of Iran, we see that the Islamic Revolution and the name of Imam Khomeini (r.a) continues to resonate with distinction! This is what ultimate trust in Almighty Allah (SWT) brings, as demonstrated by Imam Khomeini (r.a).
We see from history, how this man was able to challenge the world from his simple house in Qom, to his simple house in Najaf, and then returning to another simple house in Tehran, where there was no material embellishments or extravagance! This is divinely inspired certainty in Almighty Allah (SWT)!
The mystical, intuitive knowledge and spirituality of Imam Khomeini (r.a) was ultimately the bedrock of his success.
We should not think that the politics of Imam Khomeini (r.a) was separate from his spirituality. In fact, his politics was purely based on his spirituality! His connection and devotion to his creator, and complete faith in his Lord (SWT) is how he stood in front of this world.
That 8-year war imposed by the West on the Islamic Republic of Iran, through Saddam in Iraq, whereby the whole Arab world and the West united behind the murderous dictator Saddam. Throughout this most treacherous period, where the enemies tried to destroy this nation with all their might, this old man never showed any semblance of weakness or doubt when facing the enemy!
This fearless attitude of Imam Khomeini (r.a) reminded us of his grandfather, Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s)!
These days were very tragic 32 years ago when Imam Khomeini (r.a) departed this world. He was in severe pain in hospital in these final days. Despite this, we see from the hidden cameras in his hospital room, his level of worship, through duas (supplication), tahajjud salaah etc. This was his daily sustenance, engaging in dialogue with his Lord (SWT)!
IMAM KHOMEINI (R.A) REVIVED ISLAM TO GIVE IT POLITICAL RELEVANCE
The next aspect I wish to focus on, after delving into his extraordinary conviction and faith in Almighty Allah (SWT) as described above, was that Imam Khomeini (r.a) was a man of vision! The spectrum of his thought was similarly extraordinary!
We see this clearly evident when one reflects on the approach of Imam Khomeini (r.a) and the Islam which he presented to the world. His ideas and thinking makes one realise that he truly lived way ahead of his time!
I was not here during the peak of the liberation struggle in South Africa, as we moved here when Apartheid was approaching its endpoint with the transition to the democratic dispensation. One thing we all know for sure is how this struggle for freedom, democracy, the rights of the people against the racist, oppressive Apartheid regime was fought.
What I am trying to say is that Imam Khomeini (r.a) is clearly not the first person in modern history to have stood against injustice and oppression, which in the case of Iran was perpetrated by the Shah. We have a history of struggle in our own country, South Africa, and numerous other parts of the world, where people fought for their freedom and liberation.
IMAM KHOMEINI (R.A) INSPIRED HOPE FOR SOUTH AFRICA’S LIBERATION STRUGGLE
In our struggle for justice against Apartheid, the people at the forefront of the struggle were in 90% of the cases ideologically Marxists, socialists or materialists.
Even if the religious sector was there supporting the struggle, it was very much a supporting role, whereas the people who were the driving force of this struggle were mostly Marxist, socialist inclined. This was their ideological position, including Muslims, even though they may be hereditary Muslim or Christian, whereby if they die their funeral proceedings would be conducted according to their hereditary religious tradition.
The question is WHY? The reason is because these socio-political activists see religion as nothing more than an OPIUM, as they saw the religious leaders as having nothing to do with the struggle for freedom and justice. They saw that most of the religious leaders support the oppressive system and surrender to these governments.
If you look at the very important role of Muslim participation in our country’s liberation struggle, you will see that religion plays very little role, if any, in their ideological approach. Before the Islamic Revolution, there were never any religious slogans like “Allahu Akbar” chanted in protest marches, as religion was portrayed as being aligned with the oppressive system through its passive stance.
This is where we see Imam Khomeini (r.a) introducing a model of Islam which was is appropriately coined as the “Theology of Liberation”. Imam Khomeini (r.a) introduced the thinking that religion can be the most powerful tool to fight injustice. This was a different face of Islam, which people never knew about. This makes the Islamic Revolution in Iran truly unique, compared with the irreligious, Marxist, Socialist approach noted earlier.
Therefore, after the advent of the Islamic Revolution, you will find the same revolutionaries chant religious slogans in the protest marches, here in South Africa and across the world!
IMAM KHOMEINI (R.A) PRESENTED ISLAM AS THE PROGRESSIVE SOLUTION FOR TRUE LIBERATION
The Palestinian cause is very dear to us, and the struggle for the liberation of Palestine started after the creation of the Zionist state of Israel. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) is a nationalist movement, but they became inspired by the brand of Islam presented by Imam Khomeini (r.a), such that Islam became the shelter for this nationalist liberation movement. This is the magnanimity of his impact!
Imam Khomeini (r.a) introduced the religion of Islam, and more particularly the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s), as a holistic liberating force from injustice and oppression. This is an undeniable fact of history. This achievement of Imam Khomeini (r.a) is very much connected to his spirituality and ultimate faith in Almighty Allah (SWT).
There is a well-known Hadith which states that Almighty Allah (SWT) does two things when He wants to bestow a favour on one of His servants:
- He inspires the person with special faith in Him (SWT), and
- He grants the person with broader, deeper and more thorough understanding of religion.
Imam Khomeini (r.a) was the carrier of this very deep, proper, thorough and broad understanding of religion, where religion is not only rituals and certain traditions or forms of Ibadah (worship). This is where religion is not about the type of clothing you wear, but rather, religion is about the spirit of life and the spirit of real liberation.
It can be argued that there was none more conservative than Imam Khomeini (r.a) when it came to spirituality and religiosity. At the same time, when it came to the understanding of Islam, there is none more progressive than Imam Khomeini (r.a)!
IMAM KHOMEINI (R.A) PRESENTED RELEVANT ISLAM WHICH IS NOT AN EXPIRED PRODUCT
Imam Khomeini (r.a) did not only introduce Islam as a catalyst for the fight against injustice. In addition, Imam Khomeini (r.a) also presented Islam as the solution ie. Islam as the system which can respond to the challenges of our time.
Imam Khomeini (r.a) believed that Islam is not a historical series of events which occurred 1400 years ago. Rather, Imam Khomeini (r.a) believed that while Islam was introduced 1400 years ago, he presented it as still being very relevant and fresh like it was 1400 years ago!
This is because Imam Khomeini (r.a) did not confuse the spirit and message of Islam with those frills which became attached to Islam across the centuries. For Imam Khomeini (r.a), what was important was the spirit of Islam and not the frills which developed subsequently. As a result, for Imam Khomeini (r.a), this spirit of Islam was still dynamic, alive, relevant, responsible and capable of replying to the challenges of our time!
Imam Khomeini (r.a) presented Islam which is possible to practice today. There were those who sacrificed for Islam and promoted a particular brand. But when you bring that particular brand of Islam into practical reality, you realize that it cannot be practised, as it is not in tune with the times we live in! As a result, this brand of Islam gets no buyers because it is an expired product!
Imam Khomeini (r.a) presented Islam in a format which is relevant and can be practiced proudly today! Therefore, Imam Khomeini (r.a) never spoke about the creation of an Islamic State. Rather, Imam Khomeini (r.a) introduced the idea of an Islamic Republic! There is a big difference between the two, because an Islamic Republic means a model of governance which is based upon Islam and the public.
Imam Khomeini (r.a) brought democracy and Islam together! The message of Imam Khomeini was that democracy and Islam are compatible! We constantly here people say, throughout the ages up until today, that democracy has no place in Islam. This is where Imam Khomeini (r.a) held a very different view, that Islam and democracy are indeed compatible. Hence, he introduced the idea of the Islamic Republic.
IMAM KHOMEINI (R.A) EMERGED AS THE TRUE DEMOCRAT RESPECTING THE PEOPLE’S WISH
Imam Khomeini (r.a) believed that the trust and confidence of the people is of paramount importance.
As followers of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), we believe that leadership is appointed by Almighty Allah (SWT) and not by people. Therefore, in principle, one can argue that we do not believe in democracy since Imamat is of the 12 infallible Imams of Ahlul Bait (a.s).
The key point to realize is that even in the case of the Imamat of these 12 infallibles, the support of the people is required for it to be implemented in this world.
Imam Ali (a.s) never became the practical leader of Islam in this world until the people desperately wanted him, even though he was already the divine Imam! Nobody can say that he was not the divine leader, but his leadership only became practical as the head of state when the people supported him. For as long as people abandoned him, he was unfortunately not the practical leader of Islam in this world.
Hence, when Imam Ali (a.s) accepted the position of leadership of the Islamic State, he said that if people had not come knocking on his door, showing him sufficient support, then he would have not cared two hoots about this Caliphate. This is because Imam Ali (a.s) is not driven by power instead of public support.
Imam Khomeini (r.a) believed in the power of the people to the point where even Islam cannot be imposed on the people! This is where we again see Imam Khomeini (r.a) as the true democrat. As soon as the Islamic Revolution occurred, Imam Khomeini (r.a) ordered for a referendum to take place. The question posed to the masses in the referendum was: “Do you want an Islamic Republic or not?”
The religious scholars (Ulama) were most perplexed, asking Imam Khomeini (r.a) what type of question is this for a referendum, as it is surely rhetorical? They argued that from our religious perspective, it is obvious that Islam should be the system of governance. Imam Khomeini (r.a) agreed that this is the religious view, but to establish the Islamic system of governance requires public support. Therefore, the referendum is required!
The point which Imam Khomeini (r.a) was making is that Islamic governance without public support is simply dictatorship!
THE ISLAM OF IMAM KHOMEINI (R.A) REMAINS STRONG THROUGH THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE
We learn from the history of the Imams of Ahlul Bait (a.s), that there were opportunities for them to take the position of head of the Islamic State, but they did not. The reason is simply because the people were not with them. The key point here is that the Ahlul Bait (a.s) were not after governance for the sake of fulfilling the desire for power.
That is why Imam Ali (a.s) said that he does not want power for the sake of power. Rather, he wants power to establish truth. He further said that if he cannot establish truth through power, then he has zero interest in this power! This is where we can now understand the progressive and liberating approach of Imam Khomeini (r.a) on wanting a referendum, as Islam cannot be established without the backing of the people.
The Islam of Imam Khomeini (r.a) was not the Islam of the Taliban or ISIS, nor was it the Islam of so-called Islamists who believe that Islam can be imposed on the people. Taliban and ISIS wanted to force Islam on the people, and Imam Khomeini (r.a) does not believe in forcing Islam on the people. Hence his call for a referendum after the victory of the Islamic Revolution.
Now we can see why Taliban, ISIS and all other extremist movements abusing the name of Islam hated Imam Khomeini (r.a) and his followers more than what they hated the enemies of Islam!
With the leadership of our beloved Imam Khamenei, the Islamic Revolution has managed to continue the path which Imam Khomeini (r.a) laid out. Yes, there are many challenges, like any revolution, including the role and involvement of the people in this system of Islamic governance.
There are trends and ideas floating which, in all honesty, are not compatible with the progressive approach presented by Imam Khomeini (r.a). This is where we have our trust in the leadership of the Islamic Revolution under Ayatollah Khamenei to take this mission forward to greater success, Insha Allah.
WE ARE ALL DEEPLY INDEBTED TO THIS VISIONARY OLD MAN
May the infinite mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT) be upon our beloved Imam Khomeini (r.a). We South African followers of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) are very deeply indebted to our beloved Imam Khomeini (r.a). Indeed, he has a major right over us!
The message of Ali (a.s) and Fatima (s.a) and Hussain (a.s) came to us through this visionary old man. It is Imam Khomeini (r.a) who opened the doors of our deep, mystical intuitive knowledge of the Ahlul Bait (a.s). It is this man who showed us the path of Ahlul Bait (a.s) ie. the path of salvation!
Indeed, we have all paid a hefty price for following the path of Imam Khomeini (r.a). This has caused us all to be on the receiving end of profanity, sanctions, opposition, social pressure, attacks, expulsion from houses and mosques, etc. However, the price we continue to pay is well worth it, as the promise of Almighty Allah (SWT) is that truth shall prevail.
وَقُلْ جَاءَ الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ ۚ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا
And say: “Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish.”
Verse 81 of Surah Israa’ (chapter 17 of the Holy Quran)
Indeed, we owe too much to our beloved Imam Khomeini (r.a)! Dua Kumayl we read every Thursday night is part of the legacy of Imam Khomeini (r.a). Had it not been for him, then there would be no knowledge of this magnanimous dua in our country!
May Almighty Allah (SWT) shower His infinite mercy upon the soul of our beloved Imam Khomeini (r.a). Let us all continue on the path he guided us towards.
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