Imam Khomeini's Historic Epistle to Gorbachev

Print Version | Send To Friend
Imam Khomeini's Historic Epistle to Gorbachev

January 7th marks the 23rd anniversary of the historic epistle to the last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, from the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (May his soul rest in peace).

The Sage of the Age had predicted the end of Marxism long before the end of the cold war, and had said in explicit terms that communism would soon be confined to political history museums. Please stay with us for an analysis in this regard, at a time when capitalism seems to be suffering the same fate in the West, despite US threats, wars, and strategic weapons.

The Soviet breakdown was the failure of Marxism, a blindly materialist doctrine that ignores the Fundamental Reality of the Creator of the universe, but claims to seek justice and social equality. The Soviet Union embarked on a policy of occupation abroad and suppression of the rights of people at home, similar to the present day policies of the US, which, as is clear, is on the verge of collapse. Just as the liberal democracy of the West has failed to bring justice and prosperity to the masses despite its massive propaganda, Marxism utterly failed to grant equality and justice in the nations under its yoke. When Mikhail Gorbachev took power, he realized the system was badly in needs of reforms. But the mistake he made was to emulate the model of the decadent West on the pretext of political and economic reforms. Thus, the foresight of Imam Khomeini realized the blunder the Soviet Leader was about to commit, and as a Man of God, he wrote a historical epistle to guide him and warn him of the pitfalls. He wrote: Mr. Gorbachev; Since your assumption of office there has been the impression that Your Excellency, in analyzing world political events, particularly those pertaining to the Soviet Union, have found yourself in a new era of reassessment, change and confrontation; and your boldness and initiative in dealing with the realities of the world is quite likely to bring about changes that would result in upsetting the equations of power dominating the world. I have therefore found it necessary to bring certain matters to your attention. Reality must be faced. The main problem confronting your country is not one of private ownership, freedom and economy; your problem is the absence of true faith in God, the very problem that has dragged, or will drag, the West to vulgarism and an impasse. Your main problem is the prolonged and futile war you have waged against God, the source of existence and creation.

In the letter that was delivered to the Soviet Leader by Ayatollah Javadi Amoli, Imam Khomeini said: “Mr. Gorbachev! It is clear to everybody that from now on communism will only have to be found in the museums of world political history, for Marxism cannot meet any of the real needs of mankind. Marxism is a materialistic ideology and materialism cannot bring humanity out of the crisis caused by the lack of spirituality recognized as the prime affliction of the human society in the East and the West alike.”

The Imam then noting the developments underway in some Soviet Republics, especially the Muslim populated ones, where the aspirations towards Islam were being revived, said: “When after 70 years the call, Allah-o Akbar or God is Great and the testimony to the mission of the Seal of the Divine Messengers, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), were heard from the minarets of the mosques in some of your Republics, all the followers of the pure Mohammadan Islam were moved t tears out of ecstasy. Therefore, I have found it necessary to remind you to reflect once again on the materialistic and theistic world views. Materialists consider sense to be the sole criterion of knowledge and are of the opinion that whatever cannot be known through the senses falls outside the realm of knowledge. They identify existence with matter and consider as nonexistent anything that has no material body. Inevitably, they regard the world of the unseen-God Almighty, Divine Revelation, Prophet-hood and the Resurrection-as mere fiction. On the other hand, theists consider both sense and reason to be the criteria of knowledge, and maintain that whatever can be known through reason lies within the realm of knowledge, although it is not perceptible. To theists therefore, existence is inclusive of both the unseen and the manifest. For a thing to exist it is not necessary to have a material body. In the same way that a material thing depends on an incorporeal thing, sensory perception is dependent of rational perception.

Imam Khomeini’s epistle elaborated on the virtues of Islam and drew the attention of Gorbachev to the facts, saying: “Let me call you to study Islam earnestly, not because Islam and Muslims may need you, but because Islam has exalted universal values which can bring comfort and salvation to all nations and remove the basic problems of mankind. A true understanding of Islam may forever release you from the problem (of the Soviet occupation) of Afghanistan, and other similar involvements. We treat Muslims of the world as Muslims of our own country and will ever share in their destiny. By granting certain liberties to some of your Republics in matters pertaining to religious practices, you have shown that you no longer consider religion as the opium of the people. Indeed, how can Islam be the opium of the people, the religion that has made Iranians as firm as a mountain against superpowers? It is the religion that seeks the administration of justice in the world and man's freedom from material and spiritual shackles, the opium of the people? Only that religion is the opium of the people that causes the material and spiritual resources of Islamic and non-Islamic countries to pass into the clutches of super-and lesser powers and that preaches that religion is separate from politics. This, however, cannot be called a true religion; it is what our people call an American religion.”

In conclusion, Imam Khomeini said: “I declare outright that the Islamic Republic of Iran as the greatest and most powerful base of the Islamic World can easily fill the vacuum of religious faith in your society. In any case, our country, as in the past, honours good neighbourhood and bilateral relations.”

Listening carefully to the letter and understanding the intentions of Imam, the former Soviet leader started to answer the invitation that took him one hour. A summary of Gorbachev's answer after reading Imam's letter was: “I 'm thankful of Ayatollah Khomeini's letter, I'll send an answer to this letter as soon as possible, we'll announce it to the Soviet clergymen, we are on the way of approbating religious freedom in the Soviet Union. I have claimed before that despite having different ideologies we can have peaceful relationship.”

Here it should be noted that less than two years after the Late Imam’s epistle, the Soviet Union disintegrated and the new republics that were born, were free to choose religion. Imam Khomeini had also predicted the end of the capitalist system which is now facing acute problems and falling apart. Very soon the world will witness the end of the highly flawed system of liberal democracy.