SHAFAQNA – Before I begin my commentary of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s latest address – a moment I believe will mark a profound shift, and awakening within the Islamic world, I would like to admit to my own incompetence. I will not here attempt to add or even assume on the message the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran imparted the world … how could anyone claim to such feat? I can only offer my humble opinion, and reflect on the echo his words have had on my own soul.
Our epoch is arguably a difficult one! And while we may enjoy the benefits of technology and “knowledge” at least in the sense that we have claimed to exercise greater control over our environment, we stand very much disconnected from the Divine.
“Hold on to the rope of Allah and do not disunite,” reads the Quran … How disunited we in fact stand today as we have allowed our faith to be tainted and hijacked by bigoted ignorance. How far have we fallen in our superficiality that we have turned deaf to the cries of the oppressed when we ought to have stood with them in their struggle, and affirm those principles we were offered as divine guidance?
It is Truth I will argue, we have lost most of all, as we have traded our faith for comfort and convenience. Still, the Commander of the Faithful taught us: Truth means conformity of speech with the Divine mode of working.”
It is Truth I believe Imam Khamenei shone forth as he spoke words of Resistance and Justice. It is Islam, which Ayatollah Khamenei reclaimed away from those, who, from their pulpits and golden palaces, have dressed themselves in a legitimacy which was never theirs to shoulder – nevermind wield.
Born in a tradition which demands absolute obedience so that one can be reborn free from the shackles of worldly desires, Ayatollah Khamemei firmly stepped this September in the footsteps of Islam’s Imams – a leader in the purest sense of the word, an Imam to a people lost in a struggle which threatens to swallow them whole.
Just as darkness was thickest; just as tyranny stood to claim Islam away from its people, a light was lit in Tehran – an opposition was risen in Iran so that others would follow, and bathe in the liberation it offers.
How many times have we, as a nation, shared bitter tears of shame and anger over the martyrdom of our Imams, without ever having the opportunity to honour their memory? How many centuries have we spent in the remembrance of Karbala without asking ourselves where we would have stood as Imam Hussain looked upon Yazid army?
Today Ayatollah Khamenei look upon such army to proclaim once more that the tradition of our Prophet and our Imams lives not on the lips of Riyadh’s clergy but in the hearts of its Shias – those loyal followers, who, not one, not even a little, waivered in their loyalty.
Not in shackles, not in torture, not in humiliation, not even in death! the Shias of Muhammad belong not to the Cursed Tree! They hold to the rope of Allah, and they do not disunite.
In the face of abject tyranny, and absolute oppression it is one of Islam’s Imams once more whom I saw stood and spoke necessary words of wisdom – words of faith embedded in a love which knows only those limits God wishes to impose.
And if anger there was it was for the blood of the innocent which was spilled; if it is reproach you heard it is against a falsehood which has draped itself holy in the shadow of the Ka’aba as its poison sipped deadly into the heart of the Ummah.
In the words of one Imam I have heard echo those blessed voices which have made empires fall before their faith. In the words of one of Islam’s clerics it is Darkness I saw withdrew in fear, for its infamy was revealed and denounced.
If Imam Hassan taught that peace often requires leaders to forfeit their own legitimacy so that communities could be spared unnecessary pain, there are fights Imam Hussain demonstrated, which demand utmost resolve.
Can we look today at the arrogance which has besieged Islam holy places and not recognise in the words of Ayatollah Khamenei a path towards restoration, and dignity?
“And when he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and to destroy crops and cattle and Allah does not love mischief. And when it is said unto him: Be careful of your duty to Allah, pride takes him to sin. Hell will settle his account, an evil resting-place” [the Holy Quran, Sura al-Baqara, Ayahs 205-206].
As darkness still beseech us we have been commanded to stand where others did before us, in the true tradition of our Prophets, under the only banner worth having, that of God, that of God’s religion.
And: “Whoever rejects false worship and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks” – [Surah al-Baqarah: 256]
“O Allah! Bless our Sham and our Yemen … There [Nejd – home of the House of Saud] will appear earthquakes and afflictions, and from there will come out the side of the head of Satan,” said the Prophet Muhammad (Book #17, Hadith #147, Bukhari).
Your Imam called, will you now answer?
By Catherine Shakdam for the Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies – A version of this article was published on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s website.