The success of the Islamic revolution in Iran exposed the secular nationalists both in Iran and the rest of the Muslim world.
Some people ask, either out of goodwill, ignorance, or malicious knowledge, why Iran is “expanding” from its (imperialist) imposed geographical frontiers into Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon (also colonialist defined and penciled nation-states)? The question is meant to present the Islamic political will in Iran as if it were invading, occupying, or annexing these countries!
The secular sloppy cerebrum wants to sway public opinion into believing that Islamic Iran is a hegemon. Some would postulate that Iran’s ruling classes from ancient times to the present always had their eyes set on that stretch of territory from Iran to Lebanon — Cyrus the Great, the Sassanians, the Safawids, and now the Islamic Republic. In the Muslim mind it does not take a great deal of effort to distinguish between pre-Islamic dynasties and Islamic-based governance. So we will throw that one to the wind.
These secular haranguers, especially within a peculiar Iranian nationalist strata, go on to say that in history, Iran has been defeated twice through invasions emanating from its west: Alexander of Greece and ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab of Arabia. Even the Umayyad Dynasty was finished off by a revolt with an Arabian content and a Persian structure. This counter-movement went from the east (Persia) westward toward Bilad al-Sham (the Levant).
During the fourth hijri century the (Shi‘i) Buwayhids took control of ‘Abbasid Baghdad. Even the royal family of Harun al-Rashid, the celebrity ‘Abbasid king, saw two of the princely sons split on the issue: one favored the “Arabs” (al-Amin) and the other favored the Persians (al-Ma’mun).
Strictly from this type of reading of history, some Persians, of course lacking an Islamic perspective, look at that whole region from an Iran-centric point of view. Iran was known as Persia until the Pahlavi family came along in the first quarter of the last century and stamped the country with its “Iran” imprimatur. For them it wasn’t WWI that changed the political landscape of the area; it was the 1906 Constitutional Revolution. Then came the Pahlavi coup in 1921. That was followed by the rise and expansion of the communist Tudeh Party from 1941–1953.
These internal Persian stirrings led to the nationalization of the Iranian-British petroleum consortium and the ambition of nationalizing other enterprises (the early-1950s). During Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh’s reign Persia became a bone of contention between a fading British colonialism and an emerging American imperialism. All these internal developments in certain secular Iranian circles were the catalyst for other developments in the countries around Iran. Like all other people, Iranians also have their self-centric tellers of tales.
We are not much concerned with this intellectual deviation. Our concern is that an Islamic paradigm shift occurred in Persia in 1978–1979. This revolution, for anyone who is willing to understand, broke from nationalist and sectarian eccentricities. The psychologically defeated talking-heads monitoring this exceptional event say that reformist efforts have failed to mend this revolution (for instance, the presidency of Muhammad Khatami from 1997–2005). Even the “Arab Spring” in the eyes of these observers was an offshoot of the failed “Green Revolution” of 2009.
With all the sectarian mud that is being thrown around, we should hasten to preempt the Wahhabi sectarians by saying that the Shi‘i Buwayhids, when they ruled in Baghdad, never imposed their Ithna ‘Ashari madhhab on the rest of the Muslims. This was to happen much later, at the beginning of the 16th century CE, when the Safawids pressed the Shi‘i Ithna ‘Ashari madhhab on the people in Iran, who were prior to that a “Sunni” population. At that time the Muslims (Sunnis and Shi‘is) were operating at a depleted intellectual level. Thus the disagreements and battles between the Safawids and Ottomans turned into a sectarian conflict. In 1514, the Ottoman sultan, Salim I, defeated Shah Isma‘il at the battle of Chaldiran and occupied the Safawid capital of Tabriz. There were pitched battles back and forth between the Ottomans and the Safawids in Iraq, ending ultimately with the Ottomans taking control of Iraq in 1638. Some may look at the 1502 Safawid conquest of Persia on par with the Yalta agreement and what it meant for Europe, or the collapse of the Soviet Union and what that meant for the world.
During the reign of the Pahlavis, Iranian nationalist fervor was pronounced. The friction between Iran and its neighbors (Bahrain, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates) was one of Persian nationalism versus Arabian nationalism. Persian nationalism took a back seat where imperialist interests were concerned, and so the Persian Pahlavis found common cause with the Arabian autocrats: Nuri al-Sa‘id in Iraq and King Faysal in Saudi Arabia. They all were at “imperialist attention” against ‘Abd al-Nasir of Egypt.
The Islamic governance in Tehran today has its contemporary beginnings in its opposition to the scandalous Shah. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, anti-Shah committed Muslims built bridges with anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist, and anti-Zionist forces. And no one that this writer knows of came out and labeled these self-determined Muslims to be “Persian enemies” or “Shi‘i sectarians.” They were motivated by their Islamic commitment — the way they understood that commitment to be. Once that Islamic consolidated effort came to fruition in 1979 the solidarity with it was phenomenal. People in Arab countries expressed their support bypassing ideological and religious affiliations: whether Islamic, nationalist, or leftist, they were all inspired by it and hopeful for it. The American political class — always at the Zionist beck and call — did not know how to challenge or tackle this burst of Islamic self-determination. A repeat of the 1953 American supported coup was out of the question.
Leonid Brezhnev in Moscow and Saddam Husayn in Baghdad were now equally scared of this Islamic awakening and solidarity. Saddam’s first reaction to the triumphant Islamic political will in Iran was to depose President Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr. Brezhnev’s first reaction was the occupation of Afghanistan. The Soviets deposed and disposed of their less confrontational communist comrade Hafizullah Amin who, it is said, was inching toward an understanding with the Islamic Afghan resistance (jihad). The Kremlin brought out of his Prague exile the vicious Babrak Karmal.
The Islamic sea change in Iran stirred its Shi‘i kin in Iraq who were in opposition to Saddam’s bloodthirsty regime. Some of this opposition took sides in the rivalry between Saddam and the Shah thereby fostering a relationship of sorts with the Pahlavi regime. The Shah had his own plans for unseating Saddam and some of the “Islamic” Shi‘i personalities and parties may have been active or passive abettors (Hizb al-Da‘wah, the Hakim family). Those who want further information should look up the attempted coup in Iraq led by General ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Rawi.
These fast-paced events brought together the enemies of Islamic self-determination and Saddam, on reassurances from Arabian rulers and on orders from their imperialist masters to launch the eight long years of a bloody war of aggression that drained the two populations of their combined potential to deliver the Palestinian people to their homeland. Saddam and his imperialist-Zionist handlers knew that this Ba‘thi war of aggression would have the double multiplier of antagonistic nationalism and fanatical sectarianism.
The expulsion of the Israeli diplomatic mission from Iran and the handing over of its embassy to representatives of Palestinians did not register with the Arabian decision makers as they began to lose sight of an Israeli enemy and the Palestinian cause.
Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, who are the closest bloc of activists, had their run in with President Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat when he hosted a Shah without a country. The Ikhwan also could only go so far in their verbal support of the Islamic Revolution in Iran as they were estranged by years and decades of trying to milk the Saudi, Kuwaiti, Qatari, and other cash cows in the Arabian Peninsula. When Imam Khomeini (rahmatullahi ‘alayhi) passed away, some Ikhwan mourned his passing in silence and opacity.
The Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought (Majma‘ al-Taqrib Bayna al-Madhahib al-Islamiyah) with its yearly international conferences tried to close the ranks of committed and enlightened Muslim scholars, intellectuals, activists, and officials but the Saudi spoilers would not stomach any of this Islamic rapprochement. The Islamic awareness in Iran proved to be light years ahead of the cash-centric Islamists. The Islamic scholars in Iran understood their Islamic scholar counterparts outside of Iran; but the opposite was not true. The Islamic scholars outside Iran are still having difficulties understanding their counterparts in Iran. The support of Islamic Iran for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as real and as helpful as it is could be, did not convince the Islamic doubting Thomases of Islamic Iran’s indisputable independence and its unpretentious brotherhood with the oppressed Muslims.
To muddy the waters even more, some Shi‘i decision makers and officials in Iraq are trying to play America against Iran or vice versa. Some of them have managed to prove they are sectarians. And these “some” are amplified in the murky day-to-day bombings in Iraq to prove to the world that “Shi‘is” are by their nature and definition sectarians. And the target of this false impression is Islamic Iran.
Bumbling Iraqi officials did not have a say when the US and Islamic Iran were over a powder keg concerning the peaceful enrichment of uranium. The inability of the Iraqi regime to assume day-to-day responsibility for its own citizens and its inability to side with Islamic Iran gave birth to the takfiri phenomenon: a loophole viciously utilized by the Saudi-Israeli-American axis.
The Islamic Republic in Iran is being tainted with a broad “Shi‘i” sectarian brush — not because Islamic Iran is sectarian (although sectarians are to be encountered here and there) but mainly because some of their high profile Shi‘i kith and kin contacts are sectarians. Many Arabians who are under the spell of a local and worldwide network of poisonous propaganda conclude that Islamic Iran is not what it says it is.
Now, with Donald Trump in the political cockpit in Washington, we can expect the neoconservative political class in the US to edge its way into war position against Islamic Iran. Trump’s initial soft talk about Vladimir Putin can only be interpreted as an attempt to win him into a position of abandoning Islamic Iran. News is beginning to come out about American boots on the ground in Syria. This would mean that the Iraqi popular mobilization will not be permitted to pursue Da‘ish into Syria. America becomes the de facto guardian of Da‘ish. American and Kurdish forces are teaming up in Syria.
Trump and his advisers are trying to checkmate Islamic Iran throughout Iraq by putting together a “Sunni Arabian,” “Kurdish Sunni,” and “Shi‘is-in-opposition-to-Iran” alliance. Trump and his mentors are ratcheting up the conflict in Yemen. The unspoken consensus on the Tel Aviv-London-Washington axis is that Islamic Iran has to be reined in. The geostrategic outlook from this axis is that Islamic Iran is the linchpin in a continuum of interests ex-tending from a Chinese ene-my to an ill-disposed Pakistan to a volatile Levant. The political forecast is for what appears to be an American-Israeli controlled massing of forces from Arabia, Egypt, and maybe Turkey. These armies are expected to do the fighting for those who pay their salaries.
Whoever is elected to become the next president of the Islamic Republic of Iran this month should visit some of these actualities and realize that “Iran” is the center of the world — not because it is Persian and not because it is Shi‘i, but because it is Islamic. In the words of Allah’s Prophet (pbuh), “O Allah! If this esprit de corps is defeated, You will not be revered on earth.”