Societies earn the right to live when its people are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices including that of life to uphold its principles and ideals. The Islamic Revolution in Iran was born under these very challenging circumstances when the people offered more than 80,000 martyrs during the year of the revolution.
Upon arrival in Tehran in January 1979, Imam Khomeini (ra) went straight to the Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery to acknowledge the sacrifices of the people for the revolution. In one of his most memorable statements, the Imam said: “The Shah claimed to have brought about the ‘white revolution’ in Iran. Instead, he gave us a cemetery full of martyrs.”
It is the blood of martyrs that protects and nurtures a revolution. General Qassem Solaimani’s martyrdom together with his close friend and fellow struggler, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on January 3, 2020 has added to this glorious chapter in the history of self-sacrifice. In this ephemeral life, the foremost duty of committed Muslims is to struggle in the way of Allah. This struggle has only two outcomes: victory or martyrdom.
Committed Muslims do not shy away from martyrdom because Allah has promised a great reward for them in the Hereafter that we all seek: Paradise. “And say not of those slain in Allah’s cause, ‘They are dead’: nay they are alive, but you perceive it not” (2:154).
General Soleimani was the head of Iran’s Quds Force. He had just arrived at Baghdad International Airport in the early hours of January 3, 2020 when a missile fired from an American drone resulted in his martyrdom together with the deputy head of Hashd al-Sha‘bi (Iraq’s Mobilization Units) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and their companions. By this criminal act, America and the Zionist entity proved they are the world’s biggest terrorists. If American officials believe that by assassinating General Solaimani, they can extinguish the flame of resistance, then they do not understand the concept of martyrdom in Islam at all.
Martyrs write history with their blood. If one falls in battle, 100 more take his place. This is what history teaches us. The martyr Qassem Solaimani followed the path of a long list of shuhada throughout Islamic history starting with the prince of shuhada, Imam Hussain (as).
Before discussing the impact of martyr Solaimani’s role in strengthening the resistance front, let us first dispense with some technical aspects. The US missiles fired from a drone were a complete violation of Iraqi sovereignty, against international law as well as the UN charter (for what they are worth). As head of the Quds Force, General Soleimani was a senior official of the Islamic Republic. His assassination constituted a war crime. Donald Trump and those who carried out his illegal orders must be held accountable for these war crimes.
We will not detain ourselves with the nonsensical explanations offered by US officials for this heinous crime. Americans are habitual liars. Trump is merely the most obvious and ugly face of such despicable conduct. In the past 20 years, US policy-makers have told blatant lies to launch wars killing millions of people in the process.
Since his appointment as head of the Quds Force in 1998, he was instrumental in mobilizing Muslims in defence of Masjid al Aqsa as well as the liberation of Palestine. He coordinated with Palestinian Islamic resistance groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad and enabled them to become far more effective against the Zionist occupation forces.
His close links with the Lebanese Islamic resistance movement Hizbullah are well known. Hizbullah has proven its capabilities on the battlefield, first by driving the Zionist occupiers out of much of Southern Lebanon (except the Sheba Farms) in May 2000 and then giving a bloody nose to the Israeli army in the July-August 2006 war. It is the Zionists’ defeat in the 2006 war that has prevented the Israeli army from attacking Hizbullah ever since. Instead, the Zionists choose soft targets like unarmed Palestinian civilians in their homes or arresting Palestinian children. Hundreds of children languish in Israeli prisons. They face physical and mental abuse.
Martyr Solaimani was a commander who led from the front. He was frequently seen on the frontlines in the war against the US-Saudi-Israeli-created and backed terrorist outfit Daesh (aka ISIS) in Iraq and Syria. It was his critical role in defeating this terrorist outfit that angered the warmongers so much. They plotted to kill him.
The martyr, General Solaimani clearly understood that US-Saudi-Israeli-backed Daesh terrorist operations in Iraq and Syria were meant to pave the way for a direct US attack on the Islamic Republic. He was not going to allow that to happen. Both in Iraq and Syria, the Daesh terrorists have been defeated. This means the plots of warmongers like the US and Israel have also been defeated. True, they will not give up their policies to frustrate the genuine aspirations of the people to live in dignity, freedom and respect but henceforth, for the warmongers this will become increasingly difficult. Thanks to the example of self-sacrifice created by the martyr Solaimani, the days of US imperialism and Zionist aggression are nearing their end.
It was through his untiring efforts that General Solaimani coordinated policies between the Hizbullah movement in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Palestine, and the Peoples’ militias in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) defeated ISIS terrorists and largely eliminated them from the country in 2017. The terrorists fled to Syria, helped by the US and Turkey. In Syria, however, they have been confined to a small pocket of Idlib province from where the Americans are trying to whisk them off to safety elsewhere. Some of them have showed up in distant Afghanistan, again with American help.
In occupied Palestine, especially Gaza—the tiny sliver of land called an “open air prison”—the resistance movements are becoming better organized. The odds against them are huge. They face the most heavily-armed army of brutal occupiers yet the resistance movements are able to give fitting responses. With time, they have been able to improvise to neutralize the far greater material superiority of the enemy.
The outcome of a struggle is not determined by the quantity of weapons. The morale of combatants, the justness of their cause and their courage are far more important ingredients in determining the outcome of a struggle. Committed Muslims have never shied away from struggle because of small numbers or shortage of weapons.
The political landscape in the region is changing. Oppressive powers are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their hegemony. They are forced to resort to desperate acts like the assassination of General Qassem Solaimani or the top Iranian nuclear scientist Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. What the oppressors fail to realize is that while eliminating top individuals may cause temporary setbacks, in the long run, their blood nurtures the resistance and leads to even greater efforts on the part of the oppressed.
The future belongs to the oppressed. History shows that no tyrant has remained in power indefinitely. The days of US presence in the region are numbered. Can the Zionist entity be far behind?
Zafar Bangash is the Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought based in Toronto, Canada. He is the author of numerous books including the award-winning title, Power Manifestations of the Seerah: Examining the Letters and Treaties of the Messenger of Allah, and The Doomed Kingdom of the House of Saud.