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Islamic Awakening from Imam Khomeini’s view

Mahmoud Reza Sanam-Zadeh, Neda Parsa


Several years ago, Middle East and North Africa have been observing widespread public uprisings and massive protests that have never existed in this area. These public movements which had been started initially following self-immolation of a young Tunisian and which have caused to prevalent revolutions and changes in the region, and consistent with wisely prediction of the Revolution’s Leader, has even penetrated to Europe, are addressed in the form of Islamic Awakening. When speaking of Islamic Awakening, a chain of concepts and words, which puts us in a sense within the “political culture” of Islamic Awakening emerges. These words bring us truly and clearly to the real nature and identity of Islamic Awakening, and reveal its deep reality. In this regard, we can pay attention to words such as: Muslims’ Awakening, sense of humiliation, revival of Islamic identity, esteem-seeking, Muslims’ unity and unison, Islamic civilization etc.

Although Islamic Awakening has crossed the middle of the history of Islamic countries’ past two centuries like a river’s raging waves, and depending on the conditions and circumstance, each time in a country a movement or a cry for peace has risen, in some stages, this movement has gained depth, range and symbolic model effects. In February of 1979, the victory of Islamic Revolution and the establishment and continuation of Islamic Republic themselves come to be the “effect” of Islamic Awakening and after that the “cause” of Islamic Awakening as a comprehensive and living model, and it was the Islamic Revolution of Iran that could advance the depth and the dimensions of Islamic Awakening through revival of political and social life of Muslims in a vast country. This being a model and inspiration-giving of Iran’s Islamic Republic for Islamic Awakening returns to two important and main factors. First, offering the theoretical model of “religious democracy” in the form of Constitution and the political structure of Iran’s Islamic Republic which, by reliance on the text of Islam’s instructions and values, gives an absolute and real role to people in governing their own destiny; and second, the continuation and evolution of this theory which has presented the political systems of Iran’s Islamic Republic as the model of the world of Islam. The influence and role of Islamic Republic in Islamic Awakening as follows:

“Without doubt, revivalism and Awakening of the world of Islam gained a new meaning and sense with victory of Islamic Revolution, and reached from theory to practice. Although from about one century ago thinkers like Seyyed Jama-O’dean Asad-Abadi and Mohammed Abdah were born to this world and cried for return to Islam and contrast to the culture of the west, victory if Islamic Revolution proved to all Muslims that the matter of return to Islam has not been just a fantasy, but it can turn into reality… which has been increasing Muslims’ hope and confidence and made them more hopeful of returning to golden era of Islam”.

Now considering the explanation of Islamic Revolution’s status in Islamic Awakening and Imam Khomeini’s determining and unique role in this revolution which truly demonstrated to the oppressed nations in the world that the strongest regimes associated with the Arrogance can bedefeated with trust in God, resistance and stability of people and non-reliance upon the schools of the east and the west and dependence on Islam’s salvation-giving school, it should be determined which coordinates and aspects Islamic Awakening has from Imam Khomeini’s perspective. Thus, then, the present paper attempts to address the aspects and components of Islamic Awakening in Imam Khomeini’s thought and system of thinking in addition to defining and presenting the conceptual explanation and stating Islamic Awakening’s waves and history.

Islamic Awakening Origins and Causes

Islamic Awakening as a phenomenon influenced by intellectual movement of Islamic Republic in the current era, in the form of social, organizational or military institutions has claims. Not only has this stream approved its existence and influence in the arena of political and security conflicts, but it also goes to become the uncontested power at the global level. 

Entering of new generation with revolutionary characteristics into the arena of conflicts who has deeper and more realistic understanding of the reasons of scientific, economic and social backwardness of their societies especially in the field of intellect and culture.

Attention to religious unity and ideological motifs and right understanding of the strategies of hostile and arrogant powers for creating gaps in the world of Islam.

Regional and global Awakening events such as the crisis of Palestine, events of September eleven, occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and the strategy of ideological war of the west with the centrality of USA which is done with the aim of domination over the world of Islam have remarkable impacts on Islamic Awakening.

Growth and development of mass media and the evolution of the methods of promoting Islam.

Lack of political freedom.

Aggravation of economic status.

Increase of the role of regional and international powers.

Islamic Revolution which is the main reason of Islamic Awakening and has played an especial role in Awakening Muslim nations.

At the level of function, the abovementioned factors are the effects of the first cause which is called Islamic Revolution which in 1979 in a move based on people’s will, changed all political, social, intellectual, and security infrastructures of hegemonic countries and their associated agents of authoritarian, and in a historical generation, presented a powerful and intellectual model with efficient management to the waiting streams and minds.

Imam Khomeini’s view regarding Islamic Awakening

Imam Khomeini is among those leaders of religious revolutions that by reliance upon Islamic instructions, associated with understanding, planning and implementing, attempted to revive the resistance against despotism and arrogance. Although some peacemakers in the world of Islam outlined the path of Islamism’s direction through rising against oppression in internal despotism or external arrogance, due to not having the roadmap in each path, they couldn’t go beyond their time and space. Imam Khomeini came to revive the literature of resistance and stability. Using Quran’s language, he negated all Taghuts and created a literature by means of which the spell of Taghuts was broken, and people were invited toward God, according to which Islamic movement has kept itself alive and dynamic.

In fact, it should be said that with emergence of Imam Khomeini into the global arena, a new wave of Islamic Awakening started. The role of Imam Khomeini in this period is a legendary one, similar to the very myth and legend that Seyyed Jamal O’din points out about in one of his articles in Orvatolvosgha. According to this myth, in very old days, there was a temple outside the city in which travelers took refuge at night, but nobody came out it alive. This tale was so well-known that nobody had the courage to get to the vicinity of that temple anymore. Then a man turned up, went into the temple loud and proud and heard horrific and terrifying voices from everywhere, which threatened him to death. As such, the spell was broken all of a sudden and all hidden treasures unveiled. Seyyed tells this tale and wishes for a day when a man comes and breaks the spell of colonialism. Yes, Imam Khomeini is the very legendary man who broke the spell of colonialism and turned Islamic Awakening to a dominant discourse. The new wave of Islamic Awakening under the leadership of Imam Khomeini was neither a cultural movement limited to political and intellectual elites (such as the movement of Seyyed Jamal and co-thinkers) nor a political temporary movement following recruiting from among members of a certain society (such as the movement of Ekhwan olmoslemin), but it was a universal and widespread movement which associated with itself all walks of human societies at the global level. Not only did Imam have the concern of Awakening Iranian society, but he also had the concern of all the poor: “Muslims must wake up. Today is not the day for each Muslim to live by himself in one corner and live in a certain country for himself. In such a time that the policy of superpowers is to devour everything, Muslims must wake up and be under the banner of Islam and under the domination of Quran. Their behavior toward Muslims was so that they got disappointed with themselves, i.e. they lost themselves. Muslims must be serious and find themselves again”. Thus, the first step is “Awakening”: “Awakening is the first step and Islamic countries, Muslim nations, and poor nations all over the world have woken up.” “You must wake up from the dream that have injected to us for hundreds of years. The first step is to wake up. We must understand that we are of humankind too…Awakening is followed by determination.”

The general Principles of Islamic Awakening from Imam Khomeini’s perspective

1. By pulling Islam away from the arena of the society, western culture and rules found their way through the Islamic societies, and the ground for dominance and growth of foreign counselors and agents was provided. Of course in the world of Islam, this universal attack did not remain without respond, and the keepers of Islamic values all over the Islamic countries and lands defended Islam through disseminating books, articles etc., and proved the opposite of that, i.e. Islam is of the comprehensiveness of a prosperity-giving school. In the meantime, Imam has a special characteristic. He realized the source of danger, introduced it, and presented the solution to deal with it.

Imam regarded colonizers and their agents as the reason of hopelessness and disappointment of nations with Islam and says: “They disseminated the propaganda that Islam is not a universal religion, is not the religion for life, does not have principles and foundations for society, has not brought governmental rules and principles” [10]. In his will, he has warned about the continuation of this mysterious movement by enemies and strays, and says: “from among the important conspiracies which in the recent year, especially during the contemporary decades particularly after the victory of Islamic Revolution, we can see, is the broad propagandas with various aspects for making nations especially the selfless nation of Iran disappointed with Islam. Sometimes awkwardly and explicitly it says that because Islam’s sentences have been enacted 1400 years ago, it cannot manage countries in the modern era, or that Islam is a reactionary religion and is against any innovation and the manifestation of civilization, and that countries cannot avoid the world’s civilization and its manifestations in the modern age.”

Imam considered not only colonialism and enemies of Islam as being responsible for pulling Islam away from the arena of society and the life of Muslims and dissemination of irreligion, but also many clergies who have addressed just some parts of Islam’s orders and have failed in introducing other parts due to their lack of right insight and understanding or nonchalance or other weaknesses: “clerics who do not care about introducing Islam’s theories and principles and ideology and spend the major part of their time doing what they tell them to do, must be admonished. They are guilty too, not only foreigners”. 

Imam regards the solution as in the effort and right introduction of Islam. Therefore, he has always encouraged scholars and students to reach a correct understanding of Islam and present it to the people of the world, and has emphasized the integrity and influence of Islam for managing the people of every period, and has noted the fundamental principles of Islam, and taken steps as much as he could in this direction during the continuous fighting clashes and prisons and exiles: “scholars should outline and state all aspects of Islam and present them all over the world, and if possible, find a representative so as to present the truths of Islam at a broader range.” 

2. Awakening of nations:

With a deep understanding, Imam Khomeini has regarded reforming the status of Muslims of the world in accordance with the domination of despotism and arrogance and the increasing Islamic governments’ attachment to and dependence on the devourers of the east and the west as unacceptable and undesirable, and in this regard, he considers nations’ Awakening as the condition of change and move toward the desired. He says: “Until when should we under the domination of foreigners and until when should our countries under their plunders? Why don’t Muslims wake up from sleep?” “In every country you live in, defend your Islamic and national reputation; and courageously defend Islamic nations and countries against your enemies, meaning America and international Zionism and superpowers of the east and the west; and reveal the tyrannies of Islam’s enemies. Come to your sense and find your Islamic personality. Don’t go under oppression and reveal smartly the evil plots of international devourers who are headed by America”. “Nations must themselves decide about these matters, because governments have partnership with those very superpowers, even for a little.”

3. Unity of Muslims:

Imam Khomeini regarded Islamic Awakening and the unity as interdependent: “problems of Muslims are due to the differences among walks of them”. [17] Thus, “unity of the world of Islam” was one of the long-lasting and fundamental mental concerns of Imam Khomeini who never ignored it during his social and political activity, whether before or after the victory of Islamic Revolution. In Imam Khomeini’s opinion, to sow discord is a colonialism policy which must be fought off. Fueling religious and ethnic differences in lines with the policy of Islam’s enemies is a big sin. It is under the shadow of maintaining unity that we can suppress Islam’s enemies and return to Muslims their lost esteem, and curtail the hand of superpowers from Islamic countries, and succeed in establishing the Islamic government: “the secret of Islamic countries’ all problems lies within lack of harmony, and the secret of victory is unanimity and harmony”. 

In other speeches, he says: “O the Muslims of the world and the poor under the domination of colonialists, be aware, rise and be unanimous and defend Islam and your predeterminations and don’t fear powers’ bustle because by Almighty God’s will, this century is the century of defeating of the poor over the arrogant and of truth over falsehood”.

Considering the important role of Ummah (the nation), in every chance and occasion, Imam invited the Muslims of the world to unity and solidarity, and reminded them of the value of unity, and reiterated the positive results of unity and the negative consequences of discord and division: “Islam has come to unite all nations of the world including Arab, Ajam, Turk, Fars with each other and establish a great Ummah, called the Ummah of Islam, in the world so that those who want to gain any domination over these Islamic governments, over Islamic centers, can’t do that because of the big community which is comprised of Muslims from every nation. The plot of superpowers and their agents in the Islamic countries is to separate these Muslim walks, among which Almighty God has created “Okhovvat” (brotherhood) and has named believers as brothers, and make them separate from and enemy to each other by calling them nation of Turks, nation of Kurds, Nation of Arabs, and nation of Persians. And this is the antithesis of the path of Islam and Holy Quran. All Muslims are brother and equal to each other and none of them is distinct from the rest, and all of them must be under the flag of Islam and under the flag of Towhid (monotheism). Those who sow discord among Muslims using the name of nationality, sociality, and nationalism, are armies of Satan and the helpers of superpowers and are against Holy Quran”. 

In another speech, he has introduced Islamic Republic as the implementer of unity among Muslims and says: “Islamic Republic wants to implement the order stated by God and Holy Quran and Holy Prophet in all countries and Iran is the first place of all; it wants to make all countries understand that Islam’s basis is on equality and brotherhood and unity, and all Muslims are an single hand against others. We want to make all nations understand that Islam is the religion of unity”.

In section of unity’s results and benefits, Imam Khomeini regards Muslims’ unity as the cause of the return of their lost authority and dignity, and wants the Muslims of the world to convene under the flag of Towhid and curtail the hand of superpowers from their country and treasures: “O Muslims of the world who believe in the truth of Islam, rise up and convene under the flag of Towhid under the shadow of Islam’s teachings and curtail the hand of superpowers from your countries and valuable treasures and revive the splendor of Islam and give up on sensual passions because you possess everything”. In Imam Khomeini’s opinion, victory over the enemies of Islam and defeating superpowers are achieved only through unity of Muslims and says: “O the Muslims of the world and the poor under the domination of oppressors, rise and be unanimous and defend Islam and your predeterminations and don’t fear powers’ bustle because by Almighty God’s will, this century is the century of defeating of the poor over the arrogant and of truth over falsehood”; According to Imam Khomeini, colonialism, corrupt governments, courtier clerics, westernized and easternized intellectuals, nationalism, ethnicity, and sensual passions are the factors of discord and division, and fight against Zionism, the Hajj, commemoration of Islamic rituals, making most out of Ayamollah (God’s days), and Mahdism are the factors of unity.

4. Utilizing resources and facilities

“I hope that all Muslims wake up. Muslims must unite and slap it and know that they can; they have the ability of doing this; they both have the personnel and people and nation supports them in doing everything; they have facilities; the artery of America and the west depends on the oil of this region”. 

5. Global mobilization of Muslims

“O Muslim nations, O the oppressed nations of all the Islamic worlds, O dear nations that got under the domination of some people who offer your treasures to America and you struggle to live! Wake up, rise up, O the poor of the world! Rise up and stand against superpowers because if you do so, they can do nothing”.

6. Using martyrdom-seeking youth

“O Muslims all over the world, since you have suffered from gradual death under the domination of foreigners, you must overcome the fear of death, and use the presence of zealous and martyrdom-seeking youth who are ready to break through the lines of blasphemy front. Don’t consider maintaining the current situation. But think about getting rid of bondage and redemption from enslavement and attacking enemies of Islam because esteem and life are achieved via fight and the first step in fight is the determination”.

7. Following the method of Islamic Revolution

“Today Islamic Iran, thanks to strong faith and devotion to Islam and the great change that has been created in various strata, curtails hand of the east and the west and of the deviant parasites from the country, and does not allow any power to minimally interfere in the Islamic country of Iran, and this is an absolute Hojjat (proof) for Muslims and the poor of the world to know that with nations’ will, nobody can overrun their country, and a nation that chooses martyrdom over humiliation will surely invincible”.

8. Mission-orientedness of Islam’s scholars

“Today, people of the world should pay attention to this big problem in the world, and every stratum, writer, the press all over the world should consider this matter and should give people the awareness to rise up appropriately against what these do”. “Scientists must think, wake people up; writing does not suffice, telling does not suffice, trust in governments does not suffice; people and writers and speakers must themselves wake people up, and a pen is valuable which wakes masses of people”. “Today that the breeze of Awakening is blowing all over the world and the deceiving plots of tyrants have been revealed to some extent, it is time the true sympathetic with the oppressed from each folk and tribe and in every country revealed atrocities of oppressors during its black history with pen and speech and thought and reflection, and presented their criminal records to this planet’s residents, and scholars and scientists all over the world especially scholars and thinkers of Islam rose up unanimously in the path of save humanity from the unjust domination of this foxy minority that has spread its unjust domination over the world by its conspiracies and plots, and eliminated the false fear dominating over the oppressed using their speech and pen and action”.

9. Fighting with export culture of west

“If Muslim nations and governments are national, they should try to remove themselves from intellectual dependence on west, and find their own culture and originality, and know and spread the progressive culture of Islam – which receives inspiration from Divine Inspiration… and fight with export culture”. 

10. Attention to Islamic rituals

From Imam Khomeini’s perspective, another factor of reviving Islam and disseminating it is to hold Islamic rituals and to appropriately use it. Regarding the importance of this set of Islamic orders, Imam Khomeini says: “many Islamic religious rulings are the source of social and political services. Worships in Islam are basically associated with politics and managing the society. For example, Congregational Prayer and Hajj Congregation and Friday have political impacts in addition to spirituality and the moral and belief effects. Islam has provided such congregations so that they can be religiously used, their emotions and cooperation are promoted, they grow intellectually”. 


Imam Khomeini considered revival of Hajj is the revival of Islam and Muslims, and in this regard he made efforts, and warned through speeches and messages in order to giving awareness and Awakening to Muslims about the philosophy of Hajj and enemies’ attempts in distorting it and about taking a political aspect of Hajjes, including: “one of the great philosophies of Hajj is its political aspect the criminal hands from every angle are working to pound, and unfortunately their broad propagations has influenced on Muslims that many of them consider Hajj as an mere worship without attention to Muslims”. [34] He also in this regard, addressing to Hojjaj (Pilgrims), emphasizes better using the capacity of Hajj in the Awakening of Muslims, and says: “The Hajj that Almighty God accepts and the Hajj that Islam has wanted from us, is that when you go Hajj, wake up the Muslims of this country, unite them, make them understand why over one billion Muslims are under the pressure of two multimillion powers”. 

In messages about Hajj, Imam Khomeini informed people of the danger of oppressive rulers and of the domination of arrogant powers over the world of Islam and usurp of Islamic territories and Israel’s domination and destroying their wealth, and invited them to unity and unanimity. Imam Khomeini says about the philosophy of Hajj: “Hajj is among the matters the political aspect of which is far important than its religious aspects, and you…must pay attention to this sense and eliminate this colonialist thought which has been imprinted into the mind of many, even the clerics of the Islamic countries. In your statements, in your communities, tell them that Islam’s position has not ever been like that Muslims come and merely walk around the Holy House and do such stuff and don’t care about what arrogant powers do on people of the world and on Muslims”. 

 Friday Prayers and communities

In lines with this great Islamic ritual, in the invaluable book Tahriratolvasilah, Imam Khomeini says about the contents of Friday Sermons that: “Imam Jom’e (Friday Imam) should state, while giving sermons, what’s beneficial to religion and the world of Muslims, and inform them of what is current in the Islamic and Non-Islamic countries and is to their advantage or disadvantage and what Muslims need in their life in this world and in the Hereafter, and talk with them about political and economic affairs influencing their independence and freedom, and make them aware of the interference of tyrant and colonialist governments in the political and economic affairs leading to them get colonized and exploited. The gist of Friday Prayers and its two sermons, such as Hajj and two Eids and the like, are of great benefit to Muslims, but unfortunately Muslims are unaware of the important political responsibilities and benefits of this worship”.


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Alamse Danesh

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