Imam Khomeini's exile to Bursa showed weakening Shah regime

Imam Khomeini's exile to Bursa showed weakening Shah regime

Shortly before dawn on November 4, 1964, again a detachment of commandos surrounded the Imam’s house in Qum, arrested him, and this time took him directly to Mehrabad airport in Tehran for immediate banishment to Turkey.

 The decision to deport rather than arrest Imam Khomeini and imprison him in Iran was based no doubt on the hope that in exile he would fade from popular memory. Physical elimination would have been fraught with the danger of an uncontrollable popular uprising. As for the choice of Turkey, this reflected the security cooperation existing between the Shah’s regime and Turkey.

The Imam was first lodged in room 514 of Bulvar Palas Oteli in Ankara, a moderately comfortable hotel in the Turkish capital, under the joint surveillance of Iranian and Turkish security officials. On November 12, he was moved from Ankara to Bursa, where he was to reside another eleven months. 

The stay in Turkey cannot have been congenial, for Turkish law forbade Imam Khomeini to wear the cloak and turban of the Muslim scholar, an identity which was integral to his being; the sole photographs in existence to show him bareheaded all belong to the period of exile in Turkey.
However, on December 3, 1964, he was joined in Bursa by his eldest son, Hajj Mustafa Khomeini; he was also permitted to receive occasional visitors from Iran, and was supplied with a number of books on fiqh. He made use of his forced stay in Bursa to compile Tahrir al-Wasila, a two-volume compendium on questions of jurisprudence. Important and distinctive are the fatwas this volume contains, grouped under the headings of al-amr bi ‘l-ma’ruf wa ‘l-nahy ‘an al-munkar and difa’.

The Imam decrees, for example, that “if it is feared that the political and economic domination (by foreigners) over an Islamic land will lead to the enslavement and weakening of the Muslims, then such domination must be repelled by appropriate means, including passive resistance, the boycott of foreign goods, and the abandonment of all dealings and association with the foreigners in question.” Similarly, “if an attack by foreigners on one of the Islamic states is anticipated, it is incumbent on all Islamic states to repel the attack by all possible means; indeed, this is incumbent on the Muslims as a whole.”

On September 5, 1965, Imam Khomeini left Turkey for Najaf in Iraq, where he was destined to spend thirteen years. As a traditional center of Shi’i learning and pilgrimage, Najaf was clearly a preferable and more congenial place of exile. It had moreover already functioned as a stronghold of ulama opposition to the Iranian monarchy during the Constitutional Revolution of 1906-1909. But it was not in order to accommodate the Imam that the Shah arranged for his transfer to Najaf.

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