|Shah’s official portrait. Wikipedia|
I remember the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in 1979. Shah is another name for king. As world events went, it was right up there in terms of impact and import, even to my then college-aged sensibilities. Wikipedia says
A secular Muslim, Mohammad Reza gradually lost support from the Shi’a clergy of Iran as well as the working class, particularly due to his strong policy of modernization, secularization, conflict with the traditional class of merchants known as bazaari, relations with Israel, and corruption issues surrounding himself, his family, and the ruling elite. … By 1979, political unrest had transformed into a revolution which, on 17 January, forced him to leave Iran. Soon thereafter, the Iranian monarchy was formally abolished, and Iran was declared an Islamic republic led by Ruhollah Khomeini. (source)
The revolution was considered a surprise to most Western observers. Unlike in other revolutionary situations, there had not been an extended period of demonstrations or protests, nor did unrest seem to have permeated the kingdom to any threatening extent. Yet between September 1978 and February 1979, Iran was transformed.
Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini known in the Western world as Ayatollah Khomeini, was an Iranian Shia Muslim religious leader, revolutionary, politician, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of the Pahlavi monarchy and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. Following the revolution, Khomeini became the country’s Supreme Leader, a position created in the constitution of the Islamic Republic as the highest-ranking political and religious authority of the nation, which he held until his death. He was succeeded by Ali Khamenei. Khomeini was a marja (“source of emulation”) in Twelver Shi’a Islam, a Mujtahid or faqih (an expert in Islamic law) and author of more than 40 books. (source)
and duration of the historical Islamic kingdom. That’s one reason why the Iranian Revolution was such a shock, at least to us lay people. The tectonic shift in the balance of power and stability in the Middle East with the coming of the revolution in the Middle East cannot be overstated. Prior to the Ayatollah Khomeini’s appearance and elevation to power, mostly we were only familiar with Islam when we saw flashes and clips on the news of desert people wearing turbans and the announcer was speaking of oil. We were not familiar with Islam, and indeed many of the Western religious leaders of the times prior to the 1970s simply referred to the adherents as “
Then came the Ayatollah Khomeini. His influence and power was another thing that was underestimated.
He was named Man of the Year in 1979 by American news magazine TIME for his international influence, and has been described as the “virtual face of Islam in Western popular culture” where he remains a controversial figure. He was known for his support of the hostage takers during the Iran hostage crisis, his fatwa calling for the death of British Indian novelist Salman Rushdie, and for referring to the United States as the “Great Satan”. Khomeini has been criticized for these acts and for human rights violations of Iranians (including his ordering of execution of thousands of political prisoners), and the pursuit of victory in the Iran–Iraq war that ultimately proved futile.
He has also been lauded as a “charismatic leader of immense popularity”, a “champion of Islamic revival” by Shia scholars, who attempted to establish good relations between Sunnis and Shias, and a major innovator in political theory and religious-oriented populist political strategy. (source)
All this to set the foundation for what I’m writing next. The above quote mentioned that Ayatollah Khomeini wrote 40 books. He was a revered figure in Islam, who lectured often. One series of those lectures was made into a book and is the foundation for the political attitude of his and succeeding generations of Iranians.
In Iran, the Revolution was not merely an outgrowth of economic unrest or instability. It was not merely dissatisfaction with political status quo. Islam is not a religion. It is a government.
One of the books that Ayatullah Sayyid Imam Ruhallah Musawi Khomeini wrote was, Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist. From the website Al-Islam.org, we read the Ayatollah’s works. Remember, the concepts contained in the Khomeini lectures a mere 8 years later formed the basis for the government that Iran governs itself still today. In the Introduction of the book,
This book originated in a series of lectures given at Najaf between January 21 and February 8, 1970. Three major points emerge from the lectures. The first is the necessity for the establishment and maintenance of Islamic political power for Islamic goals, precepts, and criteria. The second is the duty of the religious scholars (the fuqahā) to bring about an Islamic state. Third, a program of action for the establishment of an Islamic state, including various measures for self-reform by the religious establishment.
The faith branch of Islam is the mechanism by which citizens of the Caliphate learn about how to live their lives under the Law- Sharia law. The faith IS the government, because the Quran is their constitution given by Allah through Mohammad. The mosque is where they go to learn about how to govern themselves, according to Allah’s dictates, which again, is contained in the Quran. I will quote from Ayatollah Khomeini’s book, Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist. This is from the chapter, The Form of Islamic Government–
Islamic government is neither tyrannical nor absolute, but constitutional. It is not constitutional in the current sense of the word, i.e., based on the approval of laws in accordance with the opinion of the majority. It is constitutional in the sense that the rulers are subject to a certain set of conditions in governing and administering the country, conditions that are set forth in the Noble Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Most Noble Messenger (s). It is the laws and ordinances of Islam comprising this set of conditions that must be observed and practiced. Islamic government may therefore be defined as the rule of divine law over men.
You are beginning to see that Muslim faith and Muslim governance are intertwined and never shall an adherent reject one or the other. He would not be a Muslim if he did. To continue with quotes from the Ayatollah’s book, the chapter on The Necessity for Islamic Government,
A body of laws alone is not sufficient for a society to be reformed. In order for law to ensure the reform and happiness of man, there must be an executive power and an executor. For this reason, God Almighty, in addition to revealing a body of law (i.e., the ordinances of the sharī‘ah), has laid down a particular form of government together with executive and administrative institution. The Most Noble Messenger (s) headed the executive and administrative institutions of Muslim society. In addition to conveying the revelation and expounding and interpreting the articles of faith and the ordinances and institutions of Islam, he undertook the implementation of law and the establishment of the ordinances of Islam, thereby, bringing into being the Islamic state.
He did not content himself with the promulgation of law; rather, he implemented it at the same time, cutting off hands and administering lashings, and stonings. After the Most Noble Messenger (s), his successor had the same duty and function. When the Prophet (s) appointed a successor, it was not only for the purpose of expounding articles of faith and law; it was for the implementation of law and the execution of God’s ordinances.
The precepts are not for a previous time, with only the faith portion of Islam to be followed by the faithful Muslim. No, the intertwining of with and government is inextricable and permanent. Islamic government includes performing all the typical tasks as, say the United States Government does. I’d remind us all again that these quotes are from the book which formed the foundation for the successful revolution of the nation of Iran and is their basis for governance today. They are not cherry-picked quotes from an obscure Imam or from a discredited segment of Islam.
According to one of the noble verses of the Qur’an, the ordinances of Islam are not limited with respect to time or place; they are permanent and must be enacted until the end of time. They were not revealed merely for the time of the Prophet, only to be abandoned thereafter, with retribution and the penal code no longer be enacted, or the taxes prescribed by Islam no longer collected, and the defense of the lands and people of Islam suspended. The claim that the laws of Islam may remain in abeyance or are restricted to a particular time or place is contrary to the essential creedal bases of Islam.
Therefore as the Ayatollah outlined the Necessity of Islamic Government, and then the Form of Islamic Government, he instructs on the Program for the Establishment of Islamic Government. Here is how to get the job done, and remember, he actually did:
You teach the people matters relating to worship, of course, but more important are the political, economic, and legal aspects of Islam. [underline mine] These are, or should be, the focus of our concern. It is our duty to begin exerting ourselves now in order to establish a truly Islamic government. We must propagate our cause to the people, instruct them in it, and convince them of its validity. We must generate a wave of intellectual awakening, to emerge as a current throughout society, and gradually, to take shape as organized Islamic movement made up of the awakened, committed, and religious masses who will rise up and establish an Islamic government.
It worked in Iran, and it is working in the rest of the coming caliphate with al-Qaeda and ISIS.
The major point here is that the religion aspect of Islam is NOT the important aspect. It is only the important aspect in that it teaches the men who attend mosque as to the duties and rules regarding ‘Allah’s’ divine command for establishing an Islamic government. Here is the Ayatollah again-
Propagation and instruction, then, are our two fundamental and most important activities. It is the duty of the fuqahā to promulgate religion and instruct the people in the creed, ordinances, and institutions of Islam, in order to pave the way in society for the implementation of Islamic law and the establishment of Islamic institutions. [underline mine] In one of the traditions we have cited, you will have noticed that the successors of the Most Noble Messenger (s) are described as “teaching the people”—that is, instructing them in religion.
Many of the ordinances of Islam that refer to worship also pertain to social and political functions. The forms of worship practiced in Islam are usually linked to politics and the gestation of society. For example, congregational prayer, the gathering on the occasion of hajj, and Friday prayer, for all their spirituality, exert a political as well as moral and doctrinal influence.
Ayatollah Khomeini was not simply a religious figure, as some biographies put it. For a decade he was formerly the Supreme Leader of Iran, a nation with borders and a population of 40 million people at the time. Islam is a government, and they want and are aiming for global theocratic rule by Islamic jurists.
The Ayatollah and Iran itself are Shia Muslim, one of two branches that comprise the major points of Islam. However Shia Muslims comprise only 15% of all Islam, Sunni Muslims make up the rest. The Iranian Revolution was an empowering event for Shias, which make up most of Syria also.
There are a few differences between Shia and Sunni but they are not major in terms of how non-Muslims are to be treated, nor do they wildly differ in terms of Sharia Law.
The important thing about Sharia law is that it is perfect and sacred. Law based upon democratic process is offensive to Islam because such law is based upon people. Sharia law is based upon the Koran and Mohammed, the only perfect guidance. Therefore, it is an offence to Islam for Muslims to have to live under democratic constitutional law. (source)
Because Islam is a political institution which rejects government by democracy, Islam and a Constitutional Republic are incompatible. A Muslim who lives under a democracy and not Sharia is living treasonously to Islam and if they are a Muslim living under Sharia Law in the US (or working toward that end) they are living treasonously to the Republic.
In my own opinion we can safely say that to deny a Muslim’s practice of his religion is not a violation of the Second Amendment protection of religion, because it is not a religion- it is a government. A divided government cannot stand. Just as Jesus said that one cannot live divided between the world governance of satan and the kingdom of God, so our democracy and a Sharia enclave of Muslims cannot live peacably together (as we have repeatedly seen in Beirut, Baghdad, Paris, San Bernardino CA and elsewhere).
And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand. “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? (Matthew 12:25-26)
Our spiritual loyalties are with the One True God, but in our earthly life as Christians we submit to government. Ours in America happens to be a Constitutional Republic. We look forward to the day when we will become not only full citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven as we are now, but are physically present in our homeland. Until then, if you are an American as I am, it is sad to see our once-great nation and our once-strong country succumb to divided loyalties and self-indulgence and outright sin.
Due to America’s continued rebellion against God, I fully expect His wrath to be poured out on us as Romans 1:18-32 states. The Wrath of Abandonment is a difficult thing to watch, and I am sorrowful that God may indeed decide to use Islam as the hammer against which He will render His verdict against us here in America. It seems that in coming months or years, it may be a bloody time, a difficult time, and a sorrowful time. The flood of false religion will not be stopped,because it is prophesied that apostasy will rise (Matthew 24:10, 1 Timothy 4:1, 1 John 4:3) until the Great Apostasy takes over and the world staggers under the sin of its one world religion. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
We have hope, a secure and a glorious hope. We cling to the promises of His soon return, His everlasting kingdom, and the TRUE theocracy under which we Christians are subject. The Lamb reigns!
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:16)
Shia and Sunni Muslims: Do You Know the Difference? The link goes to a page with nation-by-nation listing of who is what and also the main differences between the two branches.