Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Mūsavi Khomeini (Persian: سید روحالله موسوی خمینی ; 21 September 1902 – 3 June 1989) often referred as Imam Khomeini was an Iranian Islamic cleric and the political and religious leader of the Islamic Revolution which overthrew the Shah of Iran and brought an end to the Imperial State of Iran.
Theology and Mysticism
- Only God, the Exalted, is the light; everything else is darkness.
- The essential purpose of revelation is to develop divine knowledge in man.
- Most of the wailings of the awliya [pious believers] is caused by the pain of separation and detachment from the Beloved and His Generosity.
- Pithy Aphorisms: Wise Saying and Counsels, Edited by Mansoor Limba, Tehran: The Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works -- International Affairs Department, p. 3.
- That which admits man to God's Threshold is his separation from all that is not of God—a thing which is not attainable by all.
- Evidently, adoration, worship and sanctification of God require knowledge and awareness of His Most Exalted Station as well as the Attributes of His Glory and Grandeur; without due knowledge and awareness, these cannot be fulfilled.
- The essence of praise accrues to none but God; your praise of a rose or an apple is [in essence] praise of God.
- [If] you have divine motives, material benefits will follow suit but they are no longer material; they have become divine.
- You were invigorated by mindfulness of God, migration from oneself to God—which is the greatest migration—migration from ego to the truth, and from this world to the unseen world.
- Pithy Aphorisms: Wise Saying and Counsels, Edited by Mansoor Limba, Tehran: The Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works -- International Affairs Department, p. 4.
- Negligence of God increases the indignation of the heart, gives the ego and Satan domination over man, and increases corruption in him daily. [On the contrary,] mindfulness and remembrance of God bestows serenity on the heart, burnishes it and makes it a mirror reflecting the Beloved. It purges and purifies the soul and saves man from the bondage of ego.
- Pithy Aphorisms: Wise Saying and Counsels, Edited by Mansoor Limba, Tehran: The Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works -- International Affairs Department, p. 5.
- Apprise your veiled and drooping hearts that the universe, from the highest heavens [ala al-illiyyin] to the lowest in hell [asfal as-safilin], is a manifestation of God, the Blessed and Exalted, and all are in the threshold of His Power.
- Pithy Aphorisms: Wise Saying and Counsels, Edited by Mansoor Limba, Tehran: The Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works -- International Affairs Department, p. 6.
- O nation, wake up! O government, wake up! Everybody wake up! You are all in the Presence of God. Tomorrow (in the next world), you will be called to account. Do not ignore the blood of our martyrs, and do not quarrel over position or status.
- That which eases calamities is the fact that all are departing mortals. All of us will pass away; so, it is better to be sacrificed in His path.
- Pithy Aphorisms: Wise Saying and Counsels, Edited by Mansoor Limba, Tehran: The Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works -- International Affairs Department. p. 7.
- The prophetic mission created a scientific-gnostic change in the world that converted the insipid Greek philosophies, which were formulated with all their past and present worth by the Greeks themselves into an objective mysticism and a veritable intuitive perception for masters of divine insight.
- Pithy Aphorisms: Wise Saying and Counsels, Edited by Mansoor Limba, Tehran: The Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works -- International Affairs Department. p. 8.
- (Addressed to religious leaders of Christianity:) To please the Lord and carry out the decrees of the Holy Christ, let the bells in your churches peal out in favor of the oppressed Iranians, and in condemnation of the oppressors.
- Pithy Aphorisms: Wise Saying and Counsels, Edited by Mansoor Limba, Tehran: The Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works -- International Affairs Department. p. 9.
- The Sunna and path of the Prophet constitute a proof of the necessity for establishing government. First, he himself established a government, as history testifies. He engaged in the implementation of laws, the establishment of the ordinances of Islam, and the administration of society. He sent out governors to different regions; both sat in judgment himself and appointed judges; dispatched emissaries to foreign states, tribal chieftains, and kings; concluded treaties and pacts; and took command in battle. In short, he fulfilled all the functions of government. Second, he designated a ruler to succeed him, in accordance with divine command. If God Almighty, through the Prophet, designated a man who was to rule over Muslim society after him, this is in itself an indication that government remains a necessity after the departure of the Prophet from this world. Again, since the Most Noble Messenger promulgated the divine command through his act of appointing a successor, he also implicitly stated the necessity for establishing a government.
- Islam and Revolution, Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, Translated and Annotated by Hamid Algar, Mizan Press, Berkley, pp. 41.
- Islam proclaims monarchy and hereditary succession wrong and invalid. When Islam first appeared in Iran, the Byzantine Empire, Egypt, and the Yemen, the entire institution of monarchy was abolished. In the blessed letters that the Most Noble Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) wrote to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius and the Shahanshah of Iran, he called upon them to abandon the monarchical and imperial form of government, to cease compelling the servants of God to worship them with absolute obedience, and to permit men to worship God, Who has no partner and is the True Monarch. Monarchy and hereditary succession represent the same sinister, evil system of government that prompted the Lord of the Martyrs (Hussain bin Ali -- peace be upon him) to rise up in revolt and seek martyrdom in an effort to prevent its establishment. He revolted in repudiation of the hereditary succession of Yazid, to refuse it his recognition.
- Islam and Revolution, Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, Translated and Annotated by Hamid Algar, Mizan Press, Berkley, p. 31.
Islam and the imperialists
- Islam is the religion of militant individuals who are committed to truth and justice. It is the religion of those who desire freedom and independence. It is the school of those who struggle against imperialism. But the servants of imperialism have presented Islam in a totally different light. They have created in men’s minds a false notion of Islam. The defective version of Islam, which they have presented in the religious teaching institution, is intended to deprive Islam of its vital, revolutionary aspect and to prevent Muslims from arousing themselves in order to gain their freedom, fulfill the ordinances of Islam, and create a government that will secure their happiness and allow them to live lives worthy of human beings.
- Islam and Revolution, Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, Translated and Annotated by Hamid Algar, Mizan Press, Berkley, pp. 28.
- ... the imperialists really have no religious belief, Christian or Islamic. Rather, throughout this long historical period, and going back to the Crusades, they felt that the major obstacle in the path of their materialistic ambitions and the chief threat to their political power was nothing but Islam and its ordinances, and the belief of the people in Islam. They therefore plotted and campaigned against Islam by various means.
- Islam and Revolution, Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, Translated and Annotated by Hamid Algar, Mizan Press, Berkley, pp. 27-28.
- Their plan is to keep us backward, to keep us in our present miserable state so they can exploit our riches, our underground wealth, our lands, and our human resources. They want us to remain afflicted and wretched, and our poor to be trapped in their misery. Instead of surrendering to the injunctions of Islam, which provide a solution for the problem of poverty, they and their agents wish to go on living in huge palaces and enjoying lives of abominable luxury.
- Islam and Revolution, Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, Translated and Annotated by Hamid Algar, Mizan Press, Berkley, p. 33.
- If you pay no attention to the policies of the imperialists, and consider Islam to be simply the few topics you are always studying and never go beyond them, then the imperialists will leave you alone. Pray as much as you like; it is your oil they are after— why should they worry about your prayers? They are after our minerals, and want to turn our country into a market for their goods. That is the reason the puppet governments they have installed prevent us from industrializing, and instead, establish only assembly plants and industry that is dependent on the outside world.
- Islam and Revolution, Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, Translated and Annotated by Hamid Algar, Mizan Press, Berkley, pp. 39.
- Through the political agents they have placed in power over the people, the imperialists have also imposed on us an unjust economic order, and thereby divided our people into two groups: oppressors and oppressed. Hundreds of millions of Muslims are hungry and deprived of all form of health care and education, while minorities comprised of the wealthy and powerful live a life of indulgence, licentiousness, and corruption. The hungry and deprived have constantly struggled to free themselves from the oppression of their plundering overlords, and their struggle continues to this day. But their way is blocked by the ruling minorities and the oppressive governmental structures they head. It is our duty to save the oppressed and deprived... The scholars of Islam have a duty to struggle against all attempts by the oppressors to establish a monopoly over the sources of wealth or to make illicit use of them. They must not allow the masses to remain hungry and deprived while plundering oppressors usurp the sources of wealth and live in opulence. The Commander of the Faithful (upon whom be peace) says: “I have accepted the task of government because God, Exalted and Almighty, has exacted from the scholars of Islam a pledge not to sit silent and idle in the face of the gluttony and plundering of the oppressors, on the one hand, and the hunger and deprivation of the oppressed, on the other.”
- Islam and Revolution, Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, Translated and Annotated by Hamid Algar, Mizan Press, Berkley, pp. 49-50.
- At the start of their mission, the prophets first confronted the upper class; Hadrat Moses, confronted the Pharaoh. The upper class enjoys the priority of being confronted and guided first.
- Pithy Aphorisms: Wise Saying and Counsels, Edited by Mansoor Limba, Tehra: The Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works -- International Affairs Department. p. 9.
- The agents of imperialism sometimes write ... that the legal provisions of Islam are too harsh ... because they originated with the Arabs, so that the “harshness” of the Arabs is reflected in the “harshness” of Islamic law! I am amazed at the way these people think. They kill people for possessing ten grams of heroin and say, “That is the law”. Inhuman laws like this are concocted in the name of a campaign against corruption, and they are not to be regarded as harsh. (I am not saying it is permissible to sell heroin, but this is not the appropriate punishment. The sale of heroin must indeed be prohibited, but the punishment must be in proportion to the crime.) When Islam, however, stipulates that the drinker of alcohol should receive eighty lashes, they consider it “too harsh.”... Many forms of corruption that have appeared in society derive from alcohol. The collisions that take place on our roads, and the murders is said to derive from addiction to alcohol. But still, some say, it is quite unobjectionable for someone to drink alcohol (after all, they do it in the West); so let alcohol be bought and sold freely. But when Islam wishes to prevent the consumption of alcohol— one of the major evils— stipulating that the drinker should receive eighty lashes, or sexual vice, decreeing that the fornicator be given one hundred lashes (and the married man or woman be stoned), then they start wailing and lamenting: “What a harsh law that is, reflecting the harshness of the Arabs!” They are not aware that these penal provisions of Islam are intended to keep great nations from being destroyed by corruption.
- Islam and Revolution, Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, Translated and Annotated by Hamid Algar, Mizan Press, Berkley, pp 33.
- Sexual vice has now reached such proportions that it is destroying entire generations, corrupting our youth, and causing them to neglect all forms of work. They are all rushing to enjoy the various forms of vice that have become so freely available and so enthusiastically promoted. Why should it be regarded as harsh if Islam stipulates that an offender should be publicly flogged in order to protect the younger generation from corruption?
- Islam and Revolution, Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, Translated and Annotated by Hamid Algar, Mizan Press, Berkley, pp 33-34.
- If the religious leaders have influence, they will not permit girls and boys to wrestle together, as recently happened in Shiraz.
Islam and civilization
- As the imperialist countries attained a high degree of wealth and affluence— the result both of scientific and technical progress and of their plunder of the nations of Asia and Africa— these individuals lost all self-confidence and imagined that the only way to achieve technical progress was to abandon their own laws and beliefs. When the moon landings took place, for instance, they concluded that Muslims should jettison their laws! But what is the connection between going to the moon and the laws of Islam? Do they not see that countries having opposing laws and social systems compete with each other in technical and scientific progress and the conquest of space? Let them go all the way to Mars or beyond the Milky Way; they will still be deprived of true happiness, moral virtue, and spiritual advancement and be unable to solve their own social problems. For the solution of social problems and the relief of human misery require foundations in faith and morals; merely acquiring material power and wealth, conquering nature and space, have no effect in this regard. They must be supplemented by, and balanced with, the faith, the conviction, and the morality of Islam in order truly to serve humanity instead of endangering it. This conviction, this morality, these laws that are needed, we already possess. So as soon as someone goes somewhere or invents something, we should not hurry to abandon our religion and its laws, which regulate the life of man and provide for his well-being in this world and the hereafter.
- Islam and Revolution, Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini, Translated and Annotated by Hamid Algar, Mizan Press, Berkley, pp 36.
- Give them Islam, proclaim to the world the program of Islamic government; maybe the kings and presidents of the Muslim countries will understand the truth of what we say and accept it. We would not want to take anything away from them; we will leave anyone in his place who faithfully follows Islam.
- ... in our domestic and foreign policy, ... we have set as our goal the world-wide spread of the influence of Islam ... We wish to cause the corrupt roots of Zionism, capitalism and Communism to wither throughout the world. We wish, as does God almighty, to destroy the systems which are based on these three foundations, and to promote the Islamic order of the Prophet ...
- if you hope at this juncture to cut the Gordian knots of socialism and communism by appealing to the center of Western capitalism, you will, far from remedying any of the ills of your society, commit a mistake which those to come will have to erase. For if Marxism has come to a deadlock in its social and economic policies, capitalism has also bogged down.
- Letter to Russian Premier Gorbachev, January 1989. http://politicalquotes.org/node/68478
- The people will not rest until the Pahlavi rule has been swept away and all traces of tyranny have disappeared. As long as the Shah's satanic power prevails, not a single true representative of the people can possibly be elected.
- Response to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's announcement of elections (August 1978); quoted in "The Shah's Divided Land" (18 September 1978) Time
- With people's revolutionary rage, the king will be ousted and a democratic state, Islamic Republic, will be established.
- "Imam's Sahife" vol. 4 p. 244 (1 November 1978).
- Women are free in the Islamic Republic in the selection of their activities and their future and their clothing.
- Interview for The Guardian in Paris (6 November 1978)
- In the Islamic Republic the rights of the religious minorities are respectfully regarded.
- Interview for Austrian television, Paris, (6 November 1978), as quoted in "Democracy? I meant theocracy — The most truthful individual in recent history" by Dr. Jalal Matini,and Farhad Mafie, in The Iranian (5 August 2003)
- Personal desire, age, and my health do not allow me to personally have a role in running the country after the fall of the current system.
- Associated Press interview in Paris (7 November 1978); repeated on several occasions before Khomeini returned to Iran
- You young people yourselves are capable of performing anything. Our inventors can invent in a high level, Our innovators can innovate in a high level, only if they keep self confidence and believe that we can.
- Addressing an audience of Iranian industry workers and inventors (October 1983); quoted in "Imam's Sahife" vol. 18 p. 189,190.
- In Iran's future Islamic system everyone can express their opinion, and the Islamic government will respond to logic with logic.
- Speech (9 November 1978), as quoted in The Most Truthful Individual in Recent History" in Iranshenasi, Vol. XIV, No. 4 (Winter 2003), as translated by Farhad Mafie
- In the Islamic government all people have complete freedom to have any kind of opinion.
- Interview with Human Rights Watch, Paris (10 November 1978)
- After the Shah's departure from Iran, I will not become a president nor accept any other leadership role. Just like before, I limit my activities only to guiding and directing the people.
- Le Monde interview in Paris (9 January 1979)
- From the beginning while we were engaged in these issues, I said in interviews with those who came from abroad, even in Najaf or Paris or among my personal words, I have always said that clerics have an occupation which is more important than these executive jobs, and should Islam become victorious, clerics would dedicate themselves to their own occupation. But as we went on with the revolution, we found out that if we tell all clerics to go after their mosques, this country would fall into the throat of America and Soviet Union. We experienced and saw, those who took the lead but were not clerics, even though some of them were religious people, our revolutionary path was not according to their taste, therefore... we temporarily deviate from our original word until this country could be administered by those other than clerics, then clerics will go back to their preach and their own position and they will leave executive matters to others who work for Islam.
- Imam's Sahife. vol. 16, p. 349,350. (21 June 1982)
- Before the revolution I thought there are appropriate individuals who would do the job according to Islam, therefore I repeatedly said that clerics would go after their own job. Then I saw that most of them were inappropriate individuals and I found out that what I said was not true, so I came and clearly announced that I was wrong.
- Imam's Sahife. vol. 18, p. 241. (11 December 1983)
- Ayatollah, would you be so kind as to tell us how you feel about being back in Iran?
Nothing. I don't feel anything. (Hichi. Hich ehsasi nadaram)
- Exchange between American reporter Peter Jennings and Khomeini (1 February 1979), during Khomeini's return flight to Iran; quoted in Elaine Sciolino (2001) Persian Mirrors. Khomeini's translator did not translate his response, but said only that he had no comment.
- These people are trying to bring back the regime of the late Shah or another regime. I will strike with my fists at the mouths of this government. From now on it is I who will name the government.
- Variant: I shall kick their teeth in. I am appointing the government. I am appointing the government by the support of this nation!
- Speech at Behesht Zahra cemetery (1 February 1979), condemning the government of Shapour Bakhtiar
- Don't listen to those who speak of democracy. They all are against Islam. They want to take the nation away from its mission. We will break all the poison pens of those who speak of nationalism, democracy, and such things.
- Remarks to students and educators in Qom (13 March 1979)
- Islamic state means a state based on justice and democracy and structured upon Islamic rules and laws.
- Imam's Sahife, vol. 5, p. 133. (17 December 1978)
- In Islam, democracy is included and people are free in Islam, both in expressing their opinions and their actions, until there is no conspiracy and they don't bring up ideas which would deviate Iranian generation.
- Imam's Sahife, vol. 5, p. 468. (15 January 1979)
- If one permits an infidel to continue in his role as a corrupter of the earth, the infidel's moral suffering will be all the worse. If one kills the infidel, and this stops him from perpetrating his misdeeds, his death will be a blessing to him.
- Speech on the day of Mohammed's birth (1984)
- Happy are those who have departed through martyrdom. Unhappy am I that I still survive.… Taking this decision is more deadly than drinking from a poisoned chalice. I submitted myself to Allah's will and took this drink for His satisfaction.
- Announcement of ceasefire with Iraq (20 July 1988), quoted in The Iran-Iraq War (2002) by Efraim Karsh
- …the author of The Satanic Verses book which is against Islam, the Prophet and the Qu'ran, and all involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them wherever they find them, so that no one will dare to insult the Islamic sanctions. Whoever is killed on this path will be regarded as a martyr, God willing.
- Fatwa against Salman Rushdie (14 February 1989)
- This regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.
- "Just How Far Did They Go, Those Words Against Israel?". The New York Times. June 11, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-08-13.
- When anyone studies a little or pays a little attention to the rules of Islamic government, Islamic politics, Islamic society and Islamic economy he will realize that Islam is a very political religion. Anyone who will say that religion is separate from politics is a fool; he does not know Islam or politics.
- Tahrīr al-Wasīla vol. 1
- Islam is politics or it is nothing.
- There is no room for play in Islam … It is deadly serious about everything.
- All those against the revolution must disappear and quickly be executed.
- Variant: All those against the revolution, that insist on their position, must disappear and quickly be executed.
- In the world there is no democracy better than our democracy. Such a thing has never before been seen.
- Clive Foss, The Tyrants: 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption, London: Quercus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1905204965, p. 195
Quotes about Khomeini
Alphabetically by author
- The freedom-lovers of the world mourn the sad demise of Imam Khomeini.
- It's almost impossible to deal with a crazy man, except that he does have religious beliefs, and the world of Islam will be damaged if a fanatic like him should commit murder in the name of religion against 60 innocent people.
- Jimmy Carter in his Diary (6 November 1979) "Keeping Faith"
- You think that Mr Khomeini, [an] uneducated person … could have planned all this? Masterminded all this, set up all the organization? I know that one man alone could not have done it … I know that a tremendous amount of money was spent … I know that top experts in propaganda were used to show us like tyrants and monsters, and the other side as democratic liberal revolutionaries who want to save the country.
- Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran
- One should express his viewpoint regarding what he performed in his country and in a vast part of the world with great respect and deep thought.
- Khomeini has offered us the opportunity to regain our frail religion … faith in the power of words.
- The Imam throughout his life called America 'the Great Satan'. He believed that all the Muslims' problems were caused by America.
- Since Khomeini's death, the popular appeal of an Islamic state — and of fundamentalism — has surely dimmed. Thinkers still debate and warriors kill, but no country seems prepared to emulate Iran. Perhaps revolutions happen only under majestic leaders, and no one like Khomeini has since appeared.