Imam Khomeini; flag barrier of fight against discrimination and injustice

Imam Khomeini; flag barrier of fight against discrimination and injustice

* A note from Dr. Ali Kamsari / Head of the institute for compilation and publication of Imam Khomeini’s works

SeyyedRuhollah Mousavi Khomeini, who was born September 24, 1902 in the historic town of Khomein and passed away on June 3, 1989 in the Iranian capital Tehran, is well- known among Muslims and freedom seekers around the world as Imam Khomeini.

Imam has been one of the Shia religious and political figures who led the struggle for the Islamic Revolution (1962-1979) against the western-backed Pahlavi puppet regime. The struggle under Imam’s leadership resulted in victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and collapse of the Shah regime at a sensitive juncture of history. In a historic referendum, the 98 percent of the Iranian people through an overwhelming majority voted to establish the Islamic Republic system.

Imam Khomeini revived numerous basic concepts in the contemporary era and redefined them in the context of Today’s international political literature and adjusted them in accordance with the contemporary needs of the Islamic world.

Imam stood against any racial and ethnic discrimination which had been used throughout centuries as a tool by colonial powers to dominate oppressed nations.

Imam’s untiring efforts in this regard proved a prelude to the harmony and an absolute proximity not only among Islamic schools of thought, but also formed a united front of divine religions across the globe.

Imam further stressed that mankind and human beings were inherently valuable and have dignity in its essence. By relying on religious and legal principles, Imam pointed out that all people, regardless of race, gender and religion, have the right to be respected and should enjoy equal rights and status in society. Referring to the verses from the holy Qur'an, Imam said as following: 

“The message of Islam is that all the races are equal, just like a person’s ribs. They are all the same. No race is superior to another.” (Sahifeh-ye-Imam, Vol. 13, page 77

“Islam drew a red line across racism and allowed no differentiation between black and white, between Turk and Iranian, between Arab and non-Arab. The only distinction it made between men stemmed from piety, fearing God.” (Sahifeh-ye-Imam, Vol. 1, page 383)                                                    

After the Western world went through dark ages by committing crimes against humanity by sticking to long time slavery, which are the dark spots and chapters of human history. The West also experienced an extensive period of discrimination, ethnic and racial tensions, and religious divisions and sectarian strife.

The drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights though was a positive step and played constructive role. But new attitudes still did not meet required standards of human equality.

 Imam Khomeini as the leader of the Islamic world and a great and influential politician of the twentieth century, like other contemporary leaders of his era such as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, strongly rejected violence and fought against it by relying on the spiritual themes. This caused him to attract the support of the freedom seekers from across the globe and they stood by Imam with their full strength. 

In addition, Imam saw racial discrimination as an objective example of the violation of human rights and the great threat to fundamental rights, and, like Mandela, believed in equal rights for all the people of South Africa and other nations.

 It must be acknowledged that Imam Khomeini's stance against "apartheid" as well as "Zionism" has not been a personal or taste issue.

It is because the principles and values of the most perfect divine religion are not compatible with such vicious agenda of colonial powers.

Imam strongly believed that the mission of all the divine prophets was to rescue the people from oppression and discrimination.

Imam Khomeini was also well aware of his humane and divine duty to support countries that confront materialic agenda of colonization. He always called on the oppressed the people of color and blacks to unite against the oppressors and believed that:

There is no space for race or racism in the divine religion of Islam. It doesn’t look at color of the face; it measures a person’s worth based on his piety. 

Sahifeh-ye-Imam, Vol. 11, page 45

His ideal as the revivalist of pure Islam, was to establish a justice-oriented popular government based on the unity and solidarity. According to him, this task should be carried out regardless of any color and the rights of individuals and their dignity must be respected.

The so-called Western democrats and human rights advocates, contrary to their claims, pursue oppressive policies against people of color, Red Indian and blacks in their countries.  But Imam following the victory of the Islamic Revolution made sure and guaranteed that ethnic and religious minorities in the Islamic system were not only free but also should not be deprived any of their rights.

Besides Muslims, Imam defend rights of Christians, Jews, and other religions or minorities who have the same social rights like everyone else and are no different from other citizens. 
In the system of the Islamic Republic, all sections of the society are seen and treated equally and freedom is the same for all segments of society including women, men, black and white. Imam Khomeini also instructed the legislators and those in charge of drafting the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is based on the votes of the majority of the Iranian people and originated from Islamic principles and norms, to place equal rights for all and no discrimination should be seen on the basis of race, language, religion and ethnicity:

The red-Indians and the blacks are facing great suppression (in the western countries).  Islamic teachings do not discriminate between the white, reds and blacks

Sahifeh-ye-Imam, Vol. 14, page 193 

What unites the people of Iran and South Africa has been the common goals of their revolution. These two great revolutions took place for liberation from the captivity of the imperial regime in Iran and the apartheid regime in South Africa. The two regimes had promoted deep bilateral political, economic and military ties despite heavy UN sanctions against apartheid. The Iranian Shah was a prominent ally of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Imam Khomeini at the peak of his struggle when he was leading the people’s movement from exile, expressed his clear and tough stance against the then South African apartheid regime, which used to import 90 percent of its oil from Shah in Iran. While responding to a question by a journalist from “Young Africa” magazine about whether Iranian revolutionary government would keep exporting its oil to the apartheid regime, Imam s crystal clear as following: 

So long as South Africa has not put an end to this situation, we cannot have any relations with it and will not supply oil to it.

Sahifeh-ye-Imam, Vol. 5, page 369                 

But after the revolution, with Imam Khomeini's clear position and strategic decision, Iran's relations with the then South African apartheid regime were severed.

In very early days after the victory, the revolutionary government of Iran severed all political, economic and military ties by dismissing the Consul General of the Shah regime there and came out in full support of the struggle of the South African people. This decisive and courageous decision, which resulted in the unwritten pact of solidarity between the two liberation movements, was hailed as an honor of the revolution and the Islamic Republic system, and the revolutionary stance was always highlighted and praised by great leader Nelson Mandela. The Iranian nation has continued supporting the relations between the two countries in the last three decades after the establishment of a non-racial and democratic government in South Africa. Despite the tensions created by the big powers and the economic pressures resulting from such severance, both the Islamic system in Iran and sovereign government in South Africa have endured in the critical situation.

 Read more article: 

Divine light of Imam Khomeini's memory and ideals

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