Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Legacy of Imam Khomeini

The legacy of Imam Khomeini is, on the eve of the thirtieth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, still very relevant to contemporary global issues. Imam died on this day 19 years ago after leading the Revolution for several decades and establishing the first modern Islamic Republic as an independent and viable system of governance. The personality and character of Imam as a progressive thinker and inspiring political leader, who led his nation through a peaceful revolution, facing a major global power with empty hands and only hearts filled with faith and resolve is worth studying. Imam set an example of integrity and high ethical standards for political leadership. He revived a modern and forward -looking interpretation of Islam that resonated with the concerns and aspirations of the young generations.

Imam relieved the followers of the religion from both backwardness and westernized alienation at the same time. During his leadership he provided a practical and viable model of governance and moral, spiritual as well as political leadership. Contemporary Islamic scholars and leaders could not match Imam's progressive insight into modern challenges such as economic policy, music, and women's rights. Imam believed and fought for the democratic values of the Republic at the same time as he stood for the Islamic quality and values.

His perspectives were not limited to the realm of the Islamic world alone but he addressed humanity in many of his statements ;as he felt that they faced common challenges and sufferings . His legacy provided inspiration for the downtrodden and oppressed, he identified with them as a religious leader and questioned the unjust world order that had undermined their existence for the benefit of a few.
I can never forget the numerous instances where in different parts of the world I have witnessed how Imam Khomeini had conquered the hearts and minds of millions.

In 1985, I was in Kenya for an international event and we had some time to visit Mombasa in outskirts of Nairobi. When the local people realized we had come from Iran they gathered to welcome us and while one of them took me to her small hut to show me how she had a picture of Imam on the wall of her room another young boy ran back home only to bring back a black and white copy of his picture carefully pasted in a wooden frame.

Imam was rarely depicted realistically by the major world media which were mostly American and a few European. He was designated by Time Magazine as Man of the Year in 1979, yet in a clearly biased and distorted manner. His message however, had spread and his vision of a rational and progressive Islam which was revolutionary and motivating but not reactionary and violent was welcomed by people who identified themselves with those values.

Influenced by maligned propaganda against the Revolution, scholars and academia in the West have rarely been able to objectively address the issue and to study and assess his personality and lifetime achievements. Only after the advent of Talebanism and Al Qaeda did they realize how inherently rational and reasonable the campaign and Revolution of Imam Khomeini stands today.


Anonymous said...

great post! ... but i think you ended it with an ambiguous sentence that can be misunderstood by western people who are not familiar with the HUGE difference of ideology between Imam Khomeni's version of Islamic governance vs. Talibanism!
you know? the entire aim of neoconservatives' Islamophobia efforts, coining the term Islamo-fascism, and not to mention their inclusion of the entire Muslim world in their so-called "War on Terror", was to make their uneducated and gullible public to view "THEM" all as one thing!
that's why i hope you might go back and add a few more sentences at the end of your post here to clarify what you mean, to those who have no clue about the stark differences between Wahabis and Shiites, between Iranian revolution and Taliban mentality, between a piously veiled Muslim activist and feminist like yourself and a poor oppressed Afghan woman wearing the Burqa and being stoned to death by the Taliban! you know? i don't think your readers are exclusively the intellectual elites or inspired, progressive, and moderate Muslims in the world!
thanks again for this website and all your posts! they're magnificent, and you're an inspiration and a source of pride for all Muslim women, i'm sure!
God bless!

Anonymous said...

are Iranian aware of this event next Tuesday???


please let them know! write about it on your Persian language websites, and let your people know that American people want CHANGE in their own government's foreign policy direction!

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Ebtekar,

You can count me among the many non-Iranians whose heart was captured by the Imam. You are absolutely right, the Imam's message is as important today as it was 20 or 30 years ago.


Anonymous said...

interesting article here:


i love Trita Parsi's views! he always makes me HOPE for a better tomorrow in Iran-US relations :-)