A lot of the Shiites never heard of this theory, the Wilayat el Faqih theory, championed by a man who have this famous quote: "There is no fun in Islam!", Mr. Ayatollah Khomeini. I have been studying this dimension for three years. Personally I hate it for different reasons. I remember one person from the LCP and two others from the SSNP telling me: "If Nasrallah supports it, then it is our pride". It saddens me how these two forgot the magic formula of the 1980s while the seculars resisted Israel: AMAL butchered Communists, Hezbollah butchered SSNP. Someone would tell me Hezbollah of the 1980s are different after Nasrallah. Well let us investigate it BRIEFLY, and I repeat this post is briefly written on the topic.
The summary of the Wilayat el Faqih is as follows:
With the early Islamic Expansions, the Sunnis dominated politically. The Shiites kept a low profile and they followed as what is called in th medieval times: "The Quietest Movements". The base of the theory rotates around the Theory of 12 Imams in the Shiites. The first Imam is of course, Imam Ali, what you would call as the Imam el Ma'soum, as the know it all. One man who was offensive on that theory was the man who paved way for the term "Who ever thought, committed Heresy", Ibn Ghazali under the hypothesis that the Prophet Mohammad came to the world, gave the complete theory and practice of Islam, and departed the world henceforth, there is no need for this Imam Ma'asoum.
Now the Wilayat el Faqih goes as follows: with the sudden disappearance of the 12th Imam, Imam el Mehdi el Montazar, Islamic theology of the Quietists argued that the Mehdi shall appear again, and most probably when Judgment Day appears. However, with the absence of the Imam, there is the need for a Wali el Faqih, or as the translation goes: Governor of the Jurisprudence. This theory was evolved and upgraded by Khomeini, and was of making Khomeini in post-revolutionary years as "the supreme leader". Guess who self-proclaimed himself as the Wali, Khomeini himself.
Now, I won't deny the Islamists didn’t play a role in the Iranian revolution, but I will not say to the extent as a lot of people try to depict it. I shall dedicate a nice post on that in the near (hopefully) future. For Starters, there were three players in Iran. The Shah mismanaged Iran drastically, and his ties with Israel/USA weren’t making him popular. Second, Mohammad Pahlavi didn't notice that when the Islamists failed to oust his father, Reza Shah, they were quiet. Reza Shah was more like the man who gave the command to the army "tear every veil you see", and forced women by this to hide at home. In any case, the big revolution exploded due to poverty, and the three parties were: the Communists – the Mujahidean (Islamists with a less extremism) – Wilayat el Faqih. Women who didn't wear the veil even wore it in solidarity of all revolutionaries against the Shah. The Communists took the lead and were successful to establish 9 Soviets throughout Iran. More to the point, Stalinist Moscow forced them to side with Khomeini since he too opposed the US (dubbing them as the white devil). Eventually, and not to dwell on details, Khomeini demolished all rivals as he installed himself as the "Supreme Leader of the Revolution", the position of the 20th Century Wali el Faqih, despite the fact there is an almost dead council.
Wali el Faqih in theory should be well-informed in the Koran, theology, and Islam as a whole. The second dimension of Wali el Faqih, that he should be the source of Emulation. The theory of Emulation itself is interesting. In medieval Islam (if you read Ibn Tufayl whose story explains it clearly), the person who got closest to God is the wisest. While European medieval theologians (like St. Augustine, St. Simonides, St. Acquinas, St. Damasenes...others) borrowed the logic from Aristotle: the more you get closer to God, the more you are wiser, hence this implies the following formula =
God = Ultimate Truth = Ultimate Wisdom = Ultimate Happiness
The theologians then added of course faith, and some tried to make Aristotle a Christian, and hence (as appearing in Dante's Purgatory), reason stops at a point, faith continues to guide the person to the ultimate truth. In Islam, the theory remained the same, but some theologians and thinkers added a touch of Emulation. A person has to emulate God to reach God. The Wali el Faqih is actually the source of emulation. This is where Khomeini became a tri-partite power source:
1) Source of Emulation
2) Ultimate Knowledge and Closest to the Truth
(hence the first two points make him the supreme leader of the revolution)
3) Leader beyond borders to lead the Revolution anywhere in the world
Now after Khomeini butchered in his last days over 21,000 Mujahid, he passed away. Khomeini, brutally oppressed all progressive powers, ruined all talents, and he stuck to his famous quote (and damaging Islam): "There is no fun in Islam". All Western features in Iran were taken out under his reign. You will never see a politician or citizen from Iran wearing "the tie", or a woman able to walk without having to worry about the threat of the Basij (Militant Youth of the Wali) or Ansar Hezbollah (not to be mistaken with the Lebanese Hezbollah) who are Ali Khamenei's hooligans, or as one author described them: "Angry Bearded Men on Motorcycles with Ak-47s". Dancing and Clapping are forbidden in Iran, even with the iron grip loosened up after Khatami's elections, it is forbidden. The Iranian theater suffered drastically (after all during the late 1970s, they were targeted most by Khomeini's followers) and massive censorships. You will notice by the late 1990s, the directors had to improvise new forms of Cinema directing and script writing. Finally, nothing takes place in Iran without the consent of the Wali's council, who elect the Wali himself for a lifetime, the Guardian Council.
So it is true that Iran has a quasi – democratic system. Yet let us take a deeper look on that quasi-democratic system. The Iranians vote for their municipalities, constituencies, and their president. Yet, everything has to pass by the Guardian Council. The Candidates have to be decided that they fit to be Muslim enough to pass. Even Parliamentary decisions have to pass by the Guardian Council, which pushed the reformist leader himself, President Khatami, to pass a bill by the Parliament that the Guardian Council doesn’t intervene in political life. Of course, Khatami was repaid with Ansar Hezbollah and Basij beating the hell out of his supporters.
To bring back to life something I wrote (but a paper I wrote 3 years back, and I wish the footnotes can appear as they did at Word)
The Iranian Revolution: Hegemony and Survival
The political framework has to be understood within Iran in order to understand the social framework whereby movements function within in the disappearance of solid Political Parties. Without understanding the hegemony of Ali Khamenei and his allies, from a religious, dogmatic, and political perspective, the framework of the social movements and social life in general cannot be tackled. Despite the fact that Iran has a parliament and presidential elections, the President of the republic is rather weak and cannot pass any legislative reform without the satisfaction of the Supreme Leader of the Revolution: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei since he can veto anything through the constitutional systems.
Supremacy of the Clerical Elites
When the 1979 revolution was over, the most powerful figure was Ayatollah Rouhallah Khomeini. He demolished anything that can be considered as Western whether from Legislative or Social perspective. The authority went directly to the Elite Clerics (el-Foqaha), and assigned them supremacy on the basis that the nation is ruled by those who understand God most. Hence, they interpret God’s law and rely on jurisprudence as an alternate means to Parliamentary votes. He also assigned the Guardian Council which is composed of 12 clerics who can over-rule any parliamentary decisions and are allowed to intervene in the President’s political affairs directly.
The Wali el-Faqih
The Guardianship Council is given the title of “Welayat-e Faqih” while its leader is considered the Wali, Guardian, and Supreme Leader of the revolution. Khomeini was the first Supreme Leader and he even reversed several decisions taken by Guardian Council and the Parliament. The Wali’s term is a life long period, the moment the candidate is elected by the Assembly of Experts as Wali, his mandate lasts as long as he is alive. The Experts have a sole performance which is to elect the Leader and do periodical reviews on the Leader. They are the sole authority to take away the Leader’s mandate.
The Wali el Faqih’s concept, which was advocated by Ayatollah Khomeini, is a hybrid mix of Islam and Modernity. In the Shiite ideology, there is a need for a source of emulation in the absence of the twelfth Imam in order to understand his will. Khomeini made the theory modern by integrating it within the Iranian Constitution.
The current Wali is Ali Khamenei, who was elected on the basis of having religious credentials and is supposed to be a “modern Leader” to act on the basis what the society required; however, he was no religious source of emulation. The clerics who attained such a status were the quietist clerics who focused on understanding the “Shari’a” and always attacked the Waliyat el Faqih concept. Ali Khamenei, like his predecessor Khomeini, attacked the quietest clerics for focusing on the details of the society rather the overall situation. Khamanei’s overall situation started rather unstable as the constitution was amended in 1989 which spared the Supreme Leader to be a source of emulation and after Khomeini’s close friend and designated successor as a Leader resigned (Ayatollah Montazari), henceforth Khamanei became the Leader. This information is important in order to understand the Islamic moderate clerics’ opposition in the mid-1990s, activists who will try to establish a better freedom and are willing to take the risk to contradict loudly anti-Supreme Leadership slogans.
What keeps Ali Khamenei’s on going mandate in the face of a political coup d’etat from within is his direct control of the Revolutionary Guards, his ability to intervene in any decisions within the government or parliament, and even decide the overall nation’s policy. He also got the non-governmental hooligans of the Ansar-e Hezbollah movement to support the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij, who are composed of youth military volunteers in allegiance to the Wali. Such abuse of power would determine the different strategies of the social movements, specially after the election of the advocates of democracy in the face of the Supreme Leader.
Khamenei’s Ground Forces
Khamenei’s role as the Supreme Leader was supposed to be the judge when disputes rise in the Parliament, called the Majles, but always ended up siding with the Conservative Hard-liners. His three primary ground forces are the official Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, and Ansar-e Hezbollah.
The Ansar-e Hezbollah are not to be mistaken with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, even though its leader believes in the Wali el Faqih. Ansar-e Hizbollah are usually present to attack any student or journalist activism and rid the accusation towards the government. They have been extensively involved in putting down the students’ reprisal in 1999, and several units were armed with automatic rifles. They are used to counter any demonstration or ruin it if it is directed away from the “Islamic Iran”. The Ansar-e Hezbollah do not dress any Western Clothes and they are made mainly of youth. They, on several occasions, have beaten up girls, couples, or western dressed like guys without being held accountable. The sponsor of Ansar-e Hezbollah is the Guardian Council spokesman himself, Ayatollah Jannati.
The Basij are youth volunteers in the service of the Islamic Republic of Iran and are also support to the revolutionary guards. Their allegiance is to Imam Khomeini and to the current Wali Faqih, Ali Khamenei. One Basiji member told an author of a book : “We will continue the path of our imam [Ayatollah Khomeini]. We will not let the West’s cultural onslaught take over and dilute our Islamic principles.” They are deployed extensively to scatter the youth with open gunshots to the air or engage in arrests when the crowds to do not move. The Ansar-e Hezbollah would come to their aid in case the gatherings or demonstrations are not controlled.
The Revolutionary Guard were established in 1979 with the sole purpose of protecting the Islamic revolution inland and exporting it outside Iran. They and the Law Enforcement Forces, have been involved in subduing possible de-stabilizing factors in Iran’s social or political life. They have the authority to interrogate anyone they want, arrest anyone under the “Moral Law Enforcement” and even beat up detainees. One academic observant was arrested for simply spending time with his female friend in a park, slapped couple of times and eventually detained for a night. It is also reported that bureaucratic corruption at the police station is intolerable to the extent some people prefer not to file a complaint of a robbery instead of being humiliated.
Against The Great West and Reform
When Khomeini took power in Iran and his faction overcame all rivalry parties, the 1980s can be identified with the gradual elimination of Western ideas. The Shah dynasty was symbolic against the West’s “Satanic” ideas and the elimination of all symbols of the west was necessary. Streets that carried names of the Shah or Western titles were transformed into Islamic names. For example, Shah Street and Shah Reza Street were renamed Islamic Republic Street and Revolution Street respectively. Any movements or parties that were secular were arrested, such as the arrest of the Communist Tudeh Party leader, Noureddin Kianouri, in 1983 as well as 1000 others of his comrades.
The media was in no better situation. Satellites were banned in 1994 since they contain Western poisoned ideas and Khamenei’s newspaper, Kayhan, waged an offensive on ex-President Rafsanjani’s brother, then director-general of Iranian broadcasting, while mobs of Ansar-e Hezbollah demonstrated in front of the TV stations. Films, such as Baywatch, Neighbors, and even Cartoons as far as Tin Tin, were all part of the “West’s scheme to invade culturally Iran”. The hardliners were optimistic that local media can replace the ill-intentioned Western Media. Even commercials, which are assumed to be symbols of Western Greed, were even banned after the revolution. Newspapers, magazines, TV programs about earthly love and materialism are always censored or banned. Any newspaper that would advocate social change or even attempt to discuss process of reforms were also closed through the accusation of “Westoxification”, even if they belonged to the close friends of Khatami when he was president. Poets or academics were also imprisoned or assassinated if they spoke of overall freedom/democracy or attacked by the clerics on Friday Sermons.
Now this is what you get from a Wali el Faqih :
Every time he nominated someone, that someone lost. Probably elections were the pacifist tool. When Ali Khamenei nominated Nateq Nouri in face of Khatami , Khatami swept with the majority of votes, special thanks to the votes of the women, student movements, and intellects. When Ali Khamenei nominated Rafsanjani, he lost to Ahmadinejad. Probably now the only way to express solid dislike to Khamanei is to outvote his candidate.
What Hezbollah do not tell you about Iran is as follows:
1) Iran witnessed its official mass demonstration when Iran defeated USA in Football, while Hezbollah supporters in 1998 were celebrating by shooting in the air, Tehran witnessed women in a massive way taking out the veil, demonstrations, dancing in the streets and a lot of clapping. As a matter of fact, when the Basij came to intervene, the demonstrators clapped to them and sang: "Basij must dance!"
2) Ayatollah Yezdi called those who voted Khatami as "20,000,000 punks voted for Khatami" which ignited what also Hezbollah do not tell you in Lebanon, the students' revolution. Of course, Ansar Hezbollah over there are unleashed to beat the hell out of the Reformist supporters. Khamenei called them: "the mysterious hand of God.
3) Over a 100 Newspaper and Media was closed in the year 2000 alone
4) The Man who was supposed to be the next Wali el Faqih was Ayatollah el Muntazari, a man who called for the empowerment of women, get the Wali elected by the people for a periodic time, separate powers in Iran, and open Iran to the world. He was overruled when the Guardian Council amended the council to oust him out as the next heir under the accusation that he betrayed Khomeini when he objected to the execution of the over 20,000 mujahid.
5) Iran is democratic? Not... The Council bars out anyone they want (including Khatami's brother) which actually in the recent years so the decline of the reformists because they refused to confront the Supreme Leader directly and went on a very slow pace of reforming, hence between barring out several candidates, growing political apathy, and extortion (yes we haven’t forgot the purges of the intellects in post-1999 events).
6) Khamanei has total control of the Revolutionary Guards, the police, the courts, the barring of parliament/presidential candidates (as not Muslim enough), the Ministry of Interior, the Secret Service, and practically the capability to terrorize anyone who opposes him.
7) To the 14th of Marchers, Iran witnessed a gigantic revolution in Tehran triggered by the brutality of the Ansar-Hezbollah when they beaten students in their dormitory, and Tehran was closed down for three days. Khatami was given the choice of revolution/civil war or obedience, he chose the latter. The students till this very day remain the most powerful source of anti-Khamenei (whom he dubs as US puppets).
8) Khamenei's other rival to the Wilayat el Faqih was IRONICALLY Lebanon's Sheikh Fadlallah. He was the first to oppose Khomeini that Lebanon can never be an Islamic republic. Khomeini hated him; however, he is the source of emulation. This made him in defecto the second rival to the Wilayat el Faqih after el Muntazari (who remained under house arrest). Ironically, Sheikh Fadlallah's views affected Lebanon's Hezbollah, but Khamenei never forgave him for being that rival. It appeared clearly when Khatami visited Lebanon, and visited almost all Shiite figures except Sheikh Fadlallah. The biggest Irony is when Israel attempted to bomb Sheikh Fadlallah during the July War, the only real obstacle between Khamenei and Hezbollah.
9) Iran has barred out every woman nominating herself for presidency, and of course the Basij or the Ansar were sent to arrest her.
10) Despite satellite bans and internet bans, Iran was successful through its pirated satellites. Actually, if Iran was so "wonderful", why the green card lottery online was so popular that businesses opened up in 2005 to get as many people to sign up for that.
11) Women may have received a better form of rights than the 1980s, however, things are still reversible. A lot of court issues were given on women to be executed for doing what we in a liberal form of countries take for granted: enjoy life. Now behind the scenes and underground life, things may be a better way to loosen up, but still... it is a sexist law.
12) When the moderate Sheikh el Mussawi was assassinated, Sheikh Tufayli lusted power again as the General Secretary. Tehran intervened to block his return and favored his number 1 disciple, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Actually, Khomeini himself read some writings for Hassan Nasrallah when he was in his youth years and predicted that he will play a glorious part in Hezbollah's history and recommended that this person should be well preserved. Now the purpose I am mentioning that part is because again, out of the blues, we have no gurantees when Tehran will intervene again, and who knows, probably Sheikh Na'em Qassem would return. As a matter of fact, AMAL supporters, another Shiite group, themselves dread the moment Sheikh Na'em Qassem takes over because he is famous for his hardlining policies.
Now Nasrallah was quoted several times saying that the strength of Hezbollah emerges from Wilayat el Faqih. It is true, the supreme "living" leader of Hezbollah is Wali el Faqih, who comes after the disappeared Imam, outranked by Imam Ali, Prophet Mohammad, and eventually God. To Hassan Nasrallah, I opposed your party, and everything else. By all means I oppose Wilayat el Faqih, specially in the memory of our fallen comrades who sacrificed their lives to make Iran a better life, and got executed for their progressive beliefs. I consider myself lucky to be in Lebanon because what I as a teenager in a post-war era I had a way of life, a lot in Iran would have to fight for it. One revolutionary guard arrested a woman in 1993 and beat her because she was dancing "naked" in a "WOMAN'S BEACH"; when the reporter asked how "naked", he said she was wearing a top and jeans, without the veil!! To all those women who suffered in the past. To all our comrades in Iran and abroad fighting the Wilayat el Faqih, to our fellow student movements who are beaten till this very day, and to the stupidity and blindness of the people in the last appearance of Nasrallah when they cheered for him when Nasrallah expressed his pride in Wilayat el Faqih. Let them know what to expect, even pro-AMAL movement Beydoun recently nicely said: "not all the Shiites endorse that theory". However it is not a theory, it is a practice, and oppressive! Hezbollah may have liberated the South, and may defeated (at least on the infantry level) the Israelis, but excuse me, as a Marxist, I say NO TO YOUR Wilayat el Faqih! No to the Opium of the Masses! And No to anyone who promotes Wilayat el Faqih.
I would like to say, I tracked the Wilayat el Faqih liasson with Hezbollah for four fours, long before Junblatt used it as a campaign. I didn't change my opinion for almost a decade, I oppose all political parties and still do. A lot accused me I am an Opposition supporter, well here was my answer. Let us see how interesting to be accused of 14th of March sympathy. Even more, the fact Hezbollah changed their policies and aimed their weaponry to the inside, that makes me fear even more the Liasson. Hezbollah should provide better proofs about their intentions, their renewed promise!
Having expressed a long post pending (and I wish I can upload fully what I wrote on the topic; however, it is 32 pages long, with the reference to over 41 books).
No War but Class War!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
PS: There are few trusted comrades that I trust, I urge them not to open this blog in a nearby place, and also won't recommend anyone to read this article because it might get them in trouble. I prefer to be 100% secure!