We neither tolerate oppression nor imposed oppression

We neither tolerate oppression nor imposed oppression

In an interview conducted just ahead of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini said that we have had never tolerated oppression nor imposed oppression throughout the history.

 Imam Khomeini sought the western countries to abandon their support for the then US-backed dictatorial Shah regime in Iran and demanded a peaceful and smooth transfer of power to people.   

The text of the interview which was conducted by a panel of journalists comes as following: 

Date: January 26, 1979 [Bahman 6, 1357 AHS / Safar 27, 1399 AH]

Place: Neauphle-le-Château, Paris, France

Occasion: Meeting between the American political personalities and Imām Khomeinī

Interviewers: Ramsey Clark (former US attorney-general), Richard Folk (a professor of the Princeton University), Dan Louise (?) (the representative of the American religious organizations)  

[Ramsey Clark, former US prosecutor general and Richard Folk, a professor of the Princeton University, New Jersey, and chairman of the Department of International Studies, and Dan Louise (?), the representative of the American religious organizations traveled to Iran in January 1979 to conduct a close study of the situation. They were the leaders of anti-war movement during the US war with Vietnam. After visiting Tehran, they stopped in Paris in their return and met Imām Khomeinī on January 26, 1979 where they held talks with him. The meeting of the three American nationals coincided with the submission of the resignation of the head of the Royal Council, Sayyid Jalāl Tehrānī, to Imām Khomeinī in Paris. The following is the details of the discussions between Clark and Folk with Imām Khomeinī, translated by Dr. Ibrahīm Yazdī.]  

Question: [Folk: The Iranian revolution has not been predictable. Over the centuries politics and religion have intermingled in a beautiful manner. How will this be reflected in Iran’s foreign relations with other countries of the world in the viewpoint of the Āyatullāh? The resistant role of Shī‘ism has inspired a great hope in the hearts; but we want to know how Shī‘ism will function when it comes to power?]

Answer: From the early years of the development of Islam, Shī‘ism throughout centuries has been a symbol of resistance and defense of righteousness, but has never committed inequity and oppression. The governments established on the basis of Shī‘ism, as recorded in history, have neither tolerated oppression nor imposed oppression. If a government is formed on the basis of Islamic laws and is led by Shī‘ism, it is supposed to pursue such a trend. It will not pressure any human being on the basis of their religious affiliation and will not deprive them of their freedom. All human beings are free and independent in the Shi‘ah school of thought. In accordance to the Shī‘ah school of thought, when Shī‘ism conquers a place, all the nations and governments that treat the Bakhtiyār government fairly and on the basis of mutual respect will be treated by the Shī‘ah school of thought in a manner that they have never had such behavior. They are ignorant of that justice. History bears testimony that when Islam conquers a place, the people amazingly embrace Islam and turn their backs to the previous governments; like Iran where the people full-heartedly embraced Islam and the Shī‘ah school of thought. The Islamic commandments are based on justice. The lifestyle of the rulers is similar to that of the people in the lowest level. The lifestyle of the head of our religion[1] whose state was very vast—many folds of Iran, Hijāz, and Egypt—and all of which was under his domination—was lower than that of all the citizens of the nation. He used to administer justice better than any conceivable person. If there were any case against him, he would attend the court trial and would accept the wrong ruling [of the judge]. While Shī‘ism is resistant, it is at the same time just; and justice means “neither commit inequity nor surrender to oppression”. The program of Shī‘ism was summarized in these few words by our Imām: neither tolerate inequity nor be an oppressor. This is the outline of the Shī‘ī program; that is it. Shī‘ism stems from the Qur’an.  

Q: [In our observations of the current movement in Iran, what we are worried about is the degree of the toleration of non-religious leftists in Iran under the Islamic government. In Iran, we realized that there is a fear and concern among the students and others whose life is difficult in Islam and in the Islamic Republic. What assurances are there regarding these concerns?]

A: The origin of their inclination towards diversionary schools of thought is their lack of proper information about Islam. They imagine that Islam is an advocate... of the ruling system, capitalists, and the factory owners! From the viewpoint of the freedom of faith, basically the misguided persons have always been allowed to express their ideas; if they were aware of the origin of Islam, they would not express such ideas. If they become acquainted with all of the subjects, the differences will vanish. However, we have not prevented the expression of ideas and will not prevent it. Today, the ongoing movement in Iran aims to uproot oppression and destroy the corrupt regime. But a few people are engaged in sabotage activities; they have launched a disinformation campaign, want to preserve this regime or prevent the formation of an Islamic regime or may be pervert and not pay attention to the problems or despite their knowledge of the problems, they follow corrupt objectives. We grant freedom to all schools and faiths, but if they decide to rebel and change the course of the nation’s struggle and preserve the oppressors, they will not be allowed. Every nation has the right to preserve its national interests and its religion against the intrusions. If they do not invade us, we will not invade them.

Q: [One question about cultural imperialism: Islam lays great emphasis on the cultural and fundamental values. During the last fifty, sixty years, the Pahlavī rule was a kind of strong cultural imperialism, leading to the disturbance of Islamic-Iranian values and replacing them with the Western values. What steps will the Āyatullāh take to mend the social, cultural ruination?]

A: These very issues led to our opposition to the Shāh. You take only one aspect into account, but there are a number of aspects. During these fifty years, they did not only keep our culture back, but also took our nations back for several years and destroyed our economy. Iran has become a poor country. Iran has a number of resources, but they have been plundered. Instead of oil, they have built bases for the United States. They have pushed our human resources back. And if we decide to reconstruct, it will take a long time. They have trained our army in a corrupt manner—I mean the top brass commanders of the army. Following the corrupt ideas of the father and his son, they have corrupt thoughts. They have trained our army as a parasitic entity. The reforms require a long program, but since the entire nation has risen up and pursue one goal, that is, “freedom, independence, and Islamic government”, we hope that we will be able to rescue this culture—that has become parasitic and colonial—with the assistance of all strata who have expressed their willingness to cooperate and transform it into an independent culture and reform it with the help of all the strata. We hope that we will be able to prevent the plunder of our resources, sell them rationally and use them for the nation in a rational manner—either in the field of culture or in other fields. What catastrophic blows they have dealt on our nation during the past fifty years! We are facing a distressed nation that is wretched in all respects. We rise up with the help of all the citizens of the nation who all agree with us and will of course rebuild the destruction during the long years to come. It will take several years to reconstruct an independent Islamic culture, an independent army, a healthy economy, and reform a totally destroyed agriculture. We have numerous catastrophic problems most of which are due to the superpowers and created by the superpowers. God willing we will liberate ourselves from their yoke until we reach total independence in all respects.  

Q: [We are very thankful. We have three hopes and aspirations: first, peaceful and quiet transfer of power to the new government; second, materialization of the promises of justice for all the people; and third, that the Iranian and the American nations love, respect and understand each other. We want to help you in any possible form to assist the materialization of these three aspirations]

A: We are also hopeful. As for the first aspiration, its key lies in the hands of the aliens and their realization of the fact that they should stop pressure, intimidation, provocation and threats. If they allow the nation, you will see that the Iranian nation will assume power peacefully and without any tension. The power thus attained will be used for the materialization of justice. If the powers that rule over the nations step down or if they are reformed, understanding between the nations will be easy to reach. But so long as they are there, attainment of understanding is not definite.


                                                                                     Sahifeh-ye-Imam, Vol. 5, page 418

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