You taught us that Muslims are capable of having an imam contrary to the beliefs of the traditional “Shi‘is” who maintain that there can only be one
One of the most difficult things in life is to outlast your imam. And one of the most redeeming things in life is to identify your imam. This cognition became possible courtesy of Imam Khomeini and Imam Khamane’i. We who walked the Islamic Revolution’s walk identified Ruhullah al-Musawi al-Khomeini as an imam in the broad and organic meaning of the word. Ayatullah Khomeini was an imam, period. We were not polluted with the “Sunni-Shi‘i” demotion or promotion of the word respectively. An imam is a leader, full stop. The Qur’an speaks about imams who are just, virtuous, and guides, “And We rendered them [the said Prophets] leaders [a’immatan — plural of imam] who guide [people] as per Our decree” (21:73). And the Qur’an speaks about leaders who are unjust, nefarious, and insidious, “And We rendered them [Pharaoh and his military] leaders [a’immatan] who entice to the Fire; and on the Day of Resurrection they shall not triumph” (28:41).
You taught us that Muslims are capable of having an imam contrary to the beliefs of the traditional “Shi‘is” who maintain that there can only be one imam; and that is the 12th Imam who is yet to assume his long anticipated role in the practical and political affairs of this world. And you taught us that Muslims are capable of recapturing the full meaning of imam beyond a simple leader of the prayers, contrary to the beliefs of traditional “Sunnis” who gently and exhaustively attach the meanings of this word to anyone who officiates the salah ceremonies without officiating the affairs of state.
You exposed, and still expose, how shallow “Shi‘is” are when many of them to this day and month, 21 years after your departure to the heavenly abode, are incapable of saying “Imam Khomeini”. We listen to them, from time to time, as they refer to you as “the Grand Ayatullah Khomeini”, or just “Ayatullah Khomeini” etc.
You exposed, and still expose, how shallow “Sunnis” are when many of them to this very day and month, 21 years after your ascension to heaven, are incapable of saying “Imam Khomeini”. What is it in the “Sunni” world and mind that dispenses with the word “Imam” to ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib — not to Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, and ‘Uthman mind you (they are the khulafa’)? The “Sunni” literature is replete with references to the initiators of the main four schools of thought as imams: Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Shafi‘i, Imam Malik, and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, but then the same literature is unable to fix the word imam on such figures in Islam as Taqi al-Din al-Nabahani, Sayyid Qutb, Abu al-A‘la al-Mawdudi, etc. (It should be mentioned for the record that the word imam is seldom used to refer to the leading figures of the Islamic Movement, with the possible exception of al-Imam Hasan al-Banna).
From scanning through the “Shi‘i” and “Sunni” thoughts and words about you: the “Shi‘is” don’t want to call you imam and the “Sunnis” don’t want to call you imam. The “Shi‘is” because they are too high-minded about someone assuming the title of imam, and the “Sunnis” because they are too pedestrian about the same word. You, in this one aspect among many others, prove that you are indeed the Imam — way ahead of the customs and folklore of both anemic legs of what is supposed to be the Islamic Ummah. Pity the ostensible followers of Allah’s Prophet (pbuh) nowadays who cannot recognize an imam when they see one.
Imam! I shall whisper these words in confidence to you… May the Almighty forgive me and guide me if I am off the mark.
You designated the Zionist regime as the most formidable enemy of all the Muslims the world over. And I don’t think any Muslim who understands anything about what this bloody regime is doing will take issue with the fact that the Zionist gunmen and henchmen are the enemies of the Muslims and the enemies of humanity — as well as the enemies of Allah (Â) Himself. At the beginning of the Zionist-imperialist war that was imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran there were voices within your inner circle who wanted to stop the war in the early 1980’s and concentrate all the war effort in Lebanon against the Zionist shaytan. Your visionary decision was to repel Ba‘thi aggression at its source and prosecute the war until justice is done. In that wise decision, you were given the opportunity to bring out all the revolutionary potential of the aggrieved people of the Islamic Republic and with them the fellow feelings of all freedom-loving and justice-aspiring peoples in the world — particularly in the Islamic and oppressed areas of the globe.
As we all know, the impending victory of the Islamic forces over the forces of kufr and taghut was suspended when the internal and subliminal feelings of nationalists and sectarians could no longer go “the last stretch” in a victory that was over the horizons. You realized with your God-given insight that the “traditional element” from history in “Iran” could not press on with its military responsibilities. You, thus, reluctantly agreed to a cease-fire. What the ordinary person does not understand is that the war that cost your followers their lives — in the hundreds of thousands — would in a matter of one generation turn the hostile camp of “Iraq” into a failed state.
Imam! Since that imperialist-Zionist-Arabian war came to an end, and since you passed away, we have noticed a nationalism that wants to subvert Islam to its particular culture and borders. We have also noticed a sectarianism that wants to weaken Islam by coiling away from the Muslim and oppressed peoples of the world. Your followers now are to be found in Lebanon — there we have followers of the Imam who are not tainted by their nationality or their sect. When we listen to al-Sayyid Hasan Nasrullah, we detect your voice in his words. His speeches penetrate the hearts of Arabs and non-Arabs, of Muslims and non-Muslims, of the developed world and the developing world.
Your teachings have taken root in Lebanon; and soon we will, by His leave, see your teachings spreading throughout the tortured areas of the Holy Lands. Those who have been ravaged by the twin evils of nationalism and sectarianism may or may not recover from their affliction. We wish them a speedy recovery. And if they do not recover from their affliction we are sure that there will be others who will carry the Islamic banner for justice and freedom.
Rest assured, O Imam, that the sacrifices of over a million innocent human beings in the land of Karbala’ are not in vain. Iraq, the land of scholarship and the Hawzah where you spent many years studying and teaching, is in the throes of treacherous policies, vicious politicians, and bloody bandits infiltrated and accommodated by the same Zionists and imperialists who could not defeat your leadership militarily. So now they are trying to defeat your extended leadership — Imam Khamane’i — by all other means. And they come in all shapes and forms: “Shi‘is”, “Sunnis”, seculars, modernists, nationalists, socialists, etc.
You always told us that the future belongs to the muttaqis and the oppressed. You were very accurate in naming the imperialist regime in Washington as the Shaytani-buzurg (the Giant Satan). At a time when Iranian nationals and Shi‘i sectarians are retreating from your line, there are Latin American freedom lovers and free-hearted Sunnis who are discovering and taking political and military action respectively against this Shaytani-buzurg.
The war that exposed the shallow “Shi‘is” during the 1980’s is becoming the war that will expose the sketchy “Sunnis” in the coming decade. Palestine to the “Sunnis” is what Iraq is to the “Shi‘is”. You the Ummah of Hizbullah are truly Islamic. It takes an Imam like you to show us who we really are.
We cannot thank you enough for being our
Imam. We can support Imam Khamane’i for being our Imam.
As for those who were your companions and now cannot see beyond their nationalistic and sectarian selves, we can only be reminded of some characters who lived with Allah’s Prophet (pbuh) and could not see beyond their own interests and cultural priorities.
From the land of al-Imam al-Husayn to the land of al-Imam Ibrahim only an imam qualifies to liberate the Muslims from the illegitimate rulers here and there. You, O Imam Khomeini, set the process into motion. And the truly committed Muslims will press on until they secure either martyrdom or victory.
Rest in peace, O Imam Khomeini. Your generation lives on. “Allah has promised the committed Muslims from among you and those who do what is right — that He will have them inherit the earth…” (24:55).