Influence of Imam Khomeini outside Iran– By Sheikh Zakzaky
Below is the transcribed presentation by Hujjatul Islam Wal Muslimeen Shaykh Ibraheem Zakzaky, Leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria as Special Guest Speaker, at the Imam Khomayni Conference in London, United Kingdom on Saturday, 6th June, 2009.
The Moderator: “Our next speaker is not on your list. When we found out that he was in the UK, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity, and had to invite him down to come and address everyone here. He is the champion of the oppressed and a hero amongst the righteous. With over three million supporters for his cause, he is the pioneer of Islamic activism in Africa, the Leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, brothers and sisters, we are honoured to present to you His Eminence, Shaykh Ibraheem Zakzaky, please introduce him to the podium with a loud Salawaat”.
Well, as you have heard in the introduction, I am not supposed to be here. When I arrived yesterday, for a different conference, which will end perhaps Wednesday, and I will be back to Nigeria Thursday. I was told about this gathering and was also invited to say something.
Speaking about Imam al-Khomayni (QS) as the ambassador had said, has so many aspects. Aspect about his Irfan, which one sister has talked on; His knowledge and jurisprudence, which no one has talked on; His Jihad or rather his revolution and foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. There are so many aspects of the Imam, perhaps even about his poetry. I will use the few minutes given to me to speak about the influence of the Imam and his impact outside Iran.
The Imam actually came at a better time in history, just as the Holy Prophet (SAWA) was reported to have said in a hadith: “I came in the best time of human history”. At the time the Messenger of Allah came, the world was dominated by two powers. I don’t know whether they were called superpowers at that time. There was the Persian Empire in the East, and the Roman Empire in the West. The Persian Empire was practicing traditional religion called Zoroastrianism; the Roman Empire was practicing Christianity, which we believed was the distorted remnants of the true teaching of the Messenger of Allah, Isa (AS). At that time we might say, the world was in darkness, and a drop of light appeared somewhere in the desert of Saudi Arabia. It started spreading in that Arabian island, until culminated in smashing the two powers- East and West.
The Imam also came at a similar time, when there was the dominance of two ideologies. There was the capitalist ideology in the western world, led by the United States and some western European countries, and the Socialist and Communist ideology in the East, led by the former Soviet Union, China and some socialist countries. The rest of the world was made to see of which side to belong. Because these people have defined the world; there was the first world, the second world, most of the world was called the third world. The third world was made to see which of the two worlds, it would go to. Some liberation movements, particularly in Africa, even in Asia thought that Socialism with its message of social justice was a better option. Most of the liberation movements were inclined to Communism, including the ANC in what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe and South Africa. SWAPO, MPNLA in Angola and so many liberation movements were all inclined to Communist ideology.
The Communists, with their “good” message of social justice had problem of religion, which they coined as opium of the people. This was the saying of Karl Marx, that religion was the opium of the people. At that material time, when the thought was seemed to have come to stay, and the world was supposed to be what it was, the Imam came and changed the equation. His thoughts changed the views of the people concerning Islam and Shi’a in particular, and religion in general. This could be seen in the statement by one time Secretary-General of the United Nations for ten years, and Prime Minister of Austria who said, he as a Christian, Imam Khomeini made him to be proud of religion. When President Rafsanjani, then as President of Iran visited Korea, the Korean leader Kim Il-Sung (pointing to Rafsanjani) said: “We used to believe that religion was opium of the people, but your religion (Iranian religion) showed us that it is a religion which is being used to wake people up”. I could remember when I was a student in the late 70s, those days it was a sign of being civilized, educated or progressive to identify oneself with Communism. After the revolution, I could see a lot of those who were interested in Communism were trying to find out about the Imam. One of them who used to dress in T-shirt and trouser, after the revolution he started to dress in a long gown, calling himself Ayatollah.
The revolution has also taught us about the power of the people. This has impact elsewhere, outside Iran. Immediately after the revolution in Iran, there was this revolution in Nicaragua, where the people realized that the power did not belong to those in authority; it actually belonged to the people. There was another one in Duvalier; there was also this uprising in Philippine. It was all impact of the Islamic revolution led by Imam Khomeini, which showed other people that, power actually belonged to the people.
The Imam is, of course, different. Imam had good understanding of the Deen (Islam) and his time. Hitherto, a lot of Ulama had good understanding of the religion, or part of it, believing it to be just rituals between oneself and his Lord. It ends there. How much we hear from particularly the Christian source about separation of politics from religion and religion being an individual affair between an individual and his Lord. This had influence on Muslims as well, who believed that if one is seen as religious he should be isolated from the people, always reciting duas and going to the mosque. He (Imam) had good understanding of the Deen in all its perspectives; of course deep understanding of his Lord (Irfan) and good understanding of the different aspects of the Deen as a universal message for the entire governance of mankind. He also had good understanding of his time. Some scholars may understand religion, but they understand little of their own time, and therefore hardly made an impact. In fact, the Imam had made so much impact on other people, including about his own personality. I could remember when my sister brought her 3 to 4-year-old son and he saw the picture of Imam in my house, and asked me whether it was the picture of the Prophet (SAWA). You can see how the picture of the Imam could make such an impact on such a small boy. It is true the saying of someone who had visited the Imam that, the pictures were not showing the actual beauty of the Imam.
The impact of the revolution has now changed the meaning of Islam to so many people with the examples I have given. We also believe that the thoughts of Imam brought to an end the thoughts of Communism and the fall of the Soviet Union. Believe it or not, that is the truth. In his letter to Gorbachev, which Ayatullah Jawad Amuli had the honour of carrying; he wrote words that had deep meaning to the extent that the Imam said for Gorbachev to understand content of the letter he needed to send his intelligence to Qom and study for some time. Gorbachev could offer no answer but called for cooperation, but it struck in the heart. They knew that they had an ideology which had contradiction, and as the Imam predicted it was bound to fall and indeed it came to an end.
Success of establishment of an identity depends much on true narration what that identity is. Sometimes nations, ideologies, organizations, etc are based on false narrations and fabrications like the Communist ideology. It was based on false narration, and it eventually collapsed that they found out that they had to hide what they said were truths and facts. They used these fabrications to even translate physical sciences that, man was said to be going along natural quantinum from Primitism, Feudalism, Capitalism, when he develops he goes to Socialism; finally, when he is most advanced he moves to Communism and Marxism. So, even Biology was taught along these thoughts, now the texts books had to be hidden because it shameful to read. If the Soviet Union collapsed because it was based on false narrations, what do you think of what you may call Capitalism, the western ideology, will it survive? Is it based on true narration? I mean narration of the reality of things. The reason why Imam Khomeini succeeded was because he based his teachings on true narrations, the message of Allah the Almighty to entire mankind through His Messenger. This is the truth. Both ideologies were covering up things they did not want people to know; the Soviet Union would always say it had conquered knowledge in the sense that it claimed to have come out with a formula which provided for social justice. The Capitalist world would say, through the process of capitalism, where an individual in the pursuit of his own satisfaction, would end up satisfying others; therefore competition, democracy, liberty, human rights are presented as a model of how human beings should live on earth. So, they think they have answers to human problems.
Now with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ideology of Communism sent into dustbin of history, it will appear very clear, will the narration of the capitalist world survive? That is why the West, in an attempt to survive and protect itself, shows Islam and the Muslims as the enemy. It stigmatized everything about Islam being it the word, Islam, Muslim, Hijab, Qur’an, Masjid, Madrasa, etc. They stigmatized everything about Islam and gave it a bad meaning.
Sooner or later, just as the Soviet ideology of Communism collapsed, that of Capitalism of the West will also collapse. The thoughts before this world are the thoughts of Imam Khomeini. Imam Khomeini is alive, because his thoughts are very relevant to this time and they will continue for some time. The world, the whole world needs the thoughts of Imam Khomeini. Some people think just as we have Imam Khomeini in Iran, other Muslim countries of the world should have their own Khomeini-type leader. I heard someone saying they needed their own Khomeini; one was even saying they needed Khomeinis. Look, the world, the whole world, the entire world needs only one Khomeini and it has one! What remains for the world is to follow the teaching of Imam Khomeini. You cannot talk of Imam Khomeini being a former or an old leader, he is still the leader. Alhamdulillah, he has got a successor in the person of Sayyid Ali Khamene’i, (H), where the teaching of the Imam continues as if the Imam is alive. That is why a lot of them think Imam Khomeini is still dangerous to their interest, because he seems to be alive. This is why also there are still attacks on his personality.
We therefore congratulate organizers of this gathering and similar ones, may Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala bless us all; may Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala protect the Islamic Republic of Iran; May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala spread the message of Imam Khomeini to cover the entire world.
Wassalamu Alaikum, wa rahamatullah.