Summit ‘Reformist of the East’ held at Imam Khomeini’s shrine

Summit ‘Reformist of the East’ held at Imam Khomeini’s shrine

An international summit has been held by at shrine of the late founder of the Islamic Republic on the 30th anniversary of Imam Khomeini's historic letter to Gorbachev, the former head of Soviet Union.

The summit titled "Reformist of the East" will analyze Imam Khomeini's historic letter to Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader. The historic letter has attracted attention of the world's pundits, analysts, spiritual men and religious scholars.

The summit is being presided by Seyyed Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Imam Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Republic. Also among the attendees are senior government officials, foreign diplomats, university and seminary professors and internationally-reputed scholars.

Delivering a speech to the audience, Seyyed Hassan Khomeini highlighted the various perspectives of the letter, which has been registered as a historical document in the history of international relations.

Pundits maintain that Imam Khomeini was fully aware of the yearning of Soviet Muslims for reconnecting with their Islamic roots.  Hence, the Imam took it upon himself to reach out to the new, progressive-thinking leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, with a personal letter, which was delivered by the Imam’s personal envoy, Ayatollah Abdullah Javadi Amoli.  Gorbachev met for two hours with the three-person delegation from the Islamic Republic on 7 January 1989. 

Arguably, the letter had a profound effect on the Soviet leader.  As General Secretary of the Supreme Soviet, Gorbachev was himself attempting to introduce political, economic and social reforms in the Soviet Union under the rubric of perestroika and glasnost.  The word perestroika literally means rebuilding while glasnost means transparency, and both were fundamental elements in Gorbachev’s vision of revolutionary reforms for revitalizing his country. 

It was perhaps Gorbachev’s revolutionary spirit that allowed him to be receptive to Imam Khomeini’s message.  In expressing his appreciation to Ayatollah Amoli and his delegation for the dispatch from the Imam, the Soviet leader is reported to have said, “Moscow intended to rectify its past mistakes and to create a healthy life for the people, materially and spiritually.”   

Later, Shevardnadze who was foreign minister of the Soviet Union (1985–1991) delivered Mikhail Gorbachev’s response to Imam Khomeini by saying as following: 

Thanks for providing me the opportunity to meet with Your eminence, Imam Khomeini. I am in charge of conveying the response to Your Excellency by Mr. Gorbachev'. 

In his message, Mr. Gorbachev pointed out that your letter to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was full of deep visions and insightful concepts.  

All members of the Soviet committee read the text of the letter carefully and with great attention. There is no doubt that we are in agreement with you on some of major issues, but there are also points that we have disagreements about. 

What do prominent figures recall about Imam Khomeini’s historic letter?

Ayatollah Abdullah Javadi Amoli who headed an Iranian delegation to deliver Imam Khomeini’s historic letter to Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev once said that the message was read out to the last leader of Soviet Union in early January 1989 in Moscow

At an initial stage, Gorbachev had remained undecided how to properly respond as he fell short of fully comprehending deep vision and horizons predicted in the letter. But at the same time Gorbachev showed great respect and admiration for Imam’s views.

From political perspectives, the former head of Soviet Union interpreted the letter as a meddling in his country’s internal affairs. Imam had defined that his message was clear and had nothing to do with political interference or sovereignty of his homeland but was closely related to soul and spirit.

 Veteran revolutionary Ms. Marziyeh Hadidchi Dabbagh, who was a member of the delegation, once stated that Mr. Gorbachev was deeply impressed to see that the message started with the most exalted name of God the Almighty and did not talk about any material issues, worldly affairs or any war-related problems.  The letter directly addressed to Mr. Gorbachev, predicted the imminent collapse of communism and then delivered clear guidance in this regard.

Mr. Larijani who was also a member of the Iranian delegation commented that Imam's prediction was very interesting about both Marxism and the Western empire. When the Imam wrote the message, it was the Soviet empire, and Britain’s Margaret Thatcher’s slogan was to beware of Gorbachev because he wanted to revive Marxism. Imam Khomeini completely rejected this idea and said that Marxism is absolutely dead and the sound of breaking its bones can be heard.





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