Imam Khomeini's Prescription of the Revolt against the Masters of Corruption

  December 14, 2023   Read time 5 min
Imam Khomeini's Prescription of the Revolt against the Masters of Corruption
One of the key features of Imam Khomeini's socio-political intellectual system is his insistence on the collective policy of fighting the evil in all of its forms inside and outside the Islamic territory. Excerpts of his "Islamic Governance":

It is true that at present, you do not have the power to prevent the innovative practices of the rulers or to halt the corruption in which they are engaged. But at least do not stay silent. If they strike you on head, cry out in protest! Do not submit to oppression; such submission is worse than oppression itself. In order to counteract their press and propaganda apparatus, we must create our own apparatus to refuse whatever lies they issue and to proclaim that Islamic justice is not what they claim it is, but on the contrary, has a complete and coherent program for ordering the affairs of the family and all Muslim society. All these matters must be made clear so that people can come to know the truth and coming generations will not take the silence of the religious leaders as proof that the deeds and policies of the oppressors conform to the sharī‘ah, and that the perspicacious religion of Islam allows them to “consume what is forbidden,” or in other words, to plunder the wealth of the people.

Since the range of thought of some people is confined to the mosque we are now sitting in and is incapable of extending any further, when they hear the expression “consumption of what is forbidden,” they can only think of some corner grocer whose is (God forbid) selling his customers short. They never think of the whole range of more important forms of “consuming what is forbidden,” of plunder. Huge amounts of capital are being swallowed up; our public funds are being embezzled; our oil is being plundered; and our country is turned into a market for expensive, unnecessary goods by the representatives of foreign companies, which makes it possible for foreign capitalists and their local agents to pocket the people’s money. A number of foreign states carry off our oil after drawing it out of the ground, and the negligible sum they pay to the regime they have installed returns to their pockets by other routes. As for the small amount that goes into the treasury, God only knows what it is spent on.

All of this is a form of “consumption of what is forbidden” that takes place on an enormous scale, in fact on an international scale. It is not merely an evil, but a hideous and most dangerous evil. Examine carefully the conditions of society and the actions of the government and its component organs, and then you will understand what hideous “consumption of what is forbidden” is taking place now. If an earthquake occurs in some corners of the country, it too becomes a means for the ruling profiteers to increase their illegal income: they fill their pockets with money that is supposed to go to the victims of the earthquake. Whenever our oppressive, anti-national rulers enter into agreements with foreign states or companies, they pocket huge amounts of our people’s money and lavish additional huge sums on their foreign masters. It is a veritable flood of forbidden consumption that sweeps past us, right before our eyes. All this is misappropriation of wealth goes on and on: in our foreign trade and in the contracts made for the exploitation of our mineral wealth, the utilization of our forests and other natural resources, construction work, road building, and the purchase of arms from the imperialists, both Western and communist.

We must end all this plundering and usurpation of wealth. The people as a whole have a responsibility in this respect, but the responsibility of the religious scholars is graver and more critical. We must take the lead over other Muslims in embarking on this sacred jihād, this heavy undertaking; because of our rank and position, we must be in the forefront. If we do not have the power today to prevent these misdeeds from happening and to punish these embezzlers and traitors, these powerful thieves that rule over us, then we must work to gain that power. At the same time, to fulfill our minimum obligation, we must not fail to expound the truth and expose the thievery and mendacity of our rulers. When we come to power, we will not only put the country’s political life, economy, and administration in order, we will also whip and chastise the thieves and the liars.

They set fire to the Masjid al-Aqsā. We cry out: “Leave the Masjid al-Aqsā half-burned to the ground; do not erase all traces of the crime!” But the Shāh’s regime opens an account, sets up a fund, and starts collecting money from the people supposedly to rebuilt the Masjid al-Aqsā, but really to fill the pockets of our rulers while also covering up the crime committed by Israel. These are the disasters that are afflicting the nation of Islam, and that have brought us to our present state. Is it not duty of the scholars of Islam to speak out about all this? “Why do their rabbis not forbid their consumption of what is forbidden”? why do our Muslims scholars not protect? Why do they say nothing about all this plundering?

To return to the sermon of the Doyen of the Martyrs (‘a), he continues with a reference to the verse: “Cursed are those among Children of Israel who have failed to believe” (5:78). This is not relevant to our present discussion. Then he says: “God reproached and blamed them [the rabbis] because they saw with their own eyes the oppressors committing vile and corrupt acts but did not stop them.” According to the Doyen of the Martyrs, their silence was due to two factors: greed and baseness. Either they were covetous persons who profited materially from the oppressors, accepting payment to keep quiet, or they were faint-hearted cowards who were afraid of them. Consult the traditions referring to enjoining the good and forbidding the evil. There the conduct of those who constantly invent excuses in order to escape from doing their duty is condemned and their silence is considered shameful. “God says: ‘Do not fear men, but fear Me’ (2:150). This verse means roughly: ‘Why do you fear men? Our friends (awliyā) have given up their lives for the sake of Islam; you should be prepared to do the same.’

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