The start of political confrontations

Religious authority                                                    

Imam Khomeini's classes were the most crowded classes in that decade. Most students tried their best to attend his lectures. The Imam's new method of teaching, outstanding approaches, and new ways of making the students understand, attracted many students. The most outstanding feature of the Imam's classes was the discipline that was practiced in his classes.

According to a report by the 'SAVAK' (Shah's Secret Police), Imam Khomeini's classes were unique compared to the classes of other scholars. While the most famous scholars had forty or fifty students in their classes, the Imam had five hundred. This gap was enormous and indicates the popularity of Imam Khomeini's classes.

The same reports also added that among the high ranking spiritual scholars, three were interested in social affairs and Imam Khomeini was one of them. Furthermore due to the fact that Ayatollah Borojerdi was getting quite old, SAVAC decided to make sure they knew even more about the School. SAVAC investigated all aspects of the Feyzieh School and knew about the school's minute details. SAVAC investigated the lives of nine leading scholars. The third scholar on this list was Rouhullah Khomeini, and the following was written about him: "He lives in Qom. He is an anti- communist. He is interested in social affairs."

Ayatollah Borojerdi passed away on the 10th of March 1961. The issue of who would become his successor became one of the most important issues for Shia scholars. While the Ayatollah was alive no one disputed his authority and his knowledge but when he passed away there was no unanimous agreement as to who should be his successor.

In light of the circumstances, different religious authorities decided to present themselves to the people by holding gatherings mourning the loss of Ayatollah Borojerdi and honoring him.  The only personality who avoided doing so, even though his students insisted he did, was Ayatollah Khomeini. Furthermore the Imam did not attend any of the gatherings.

Imam Khomeini decisively rejected accepting the role as the next major religious authority.  The Imam's students advertised and took various measures in order to ensure that the Imam was chosen as the successor of Ayatollah Borojerdi. However the Imam disagreed with this and told his students: "I do not want anyone taking any measures to make me the next great Religious Authority". Nevertheless his students carried on insisting that the Imam should accept this position. Finally, after much persuasion, the Imam accepted this critical and highly sensitive position.

What was quite odd was that the Shah only sent his condolences for the death of Ayatollah Borojerdi to Ayatollah Hakim, who was living in Najaf at the time.

Reason for beginning the campaign

From the beginning of the Pahlavi dynasty, Imam Khomeini was among the opposition and he had his reasons for this. He expressed his dissatisfaction in various ways and as soon as he got an opportunity. The most important reasons behind the Imam's strong opposition of the Pahlavi regime were the weakening of Islamic practices by the regime, the dependence of the regime on foreign powers, and fighting with oppression and tyranny.

With the establishment of the Pahlavi regime great oppression surfaced and a particular enmity against religion was seen. During Reza shah's rule, oppression had its own shape and form and during the Shah's rule it was different.

Although Imam Khomeini was aware of all of the injustices, he kept quiet. The Imam was waiting for a suitable opportunity to express his views and opposition. Finally this opportunity surfaced for the first time in 1961, when Dr Ali Amini, who was the Shah's prime minister, came to Qom. Amini spoke with four distinguished scholars and among them was Imam Khomeini. Imam Khomeini spoke to the Prime Minister regarding four matters. First he told him what a great responsibility a Prime Minister has and that he should be aware of this. Secondly he told him to take lessons from the fate of previous Prime Ministers. Thirdly he briefly described what the Howzeyeh E'lmiyah did and the benefits it had for the country and lastly he gave some suggestions. 

In 1962 Asad Allah A'lami's government changed some rules regarding the regional elections. The condition of being Muslim for both the candidates and voters was removed and the need to swear by the Holy Qur'an when a candidate is chosen to run office was also removed.

This showed that the campaign against Islam was growing stronger. Thus, Imam Khomeini, who was the first protestor to step forward, gave a proposal signed by four highly ranked religious leaders: Golpayegani, Shari'at Madarei, Shahab Al-Deen Najafi Mar'ashi and Morteza Ha'erri. They decided to carry out the following :
1- To send a telegram to the Shah 
2- To send letters to religious leaders in cities inviting them to join their protests and movements.
3- Arranging weekly meetings in order to reach united decisions regarding what course of action needs to be taken next.

The Shah gave a short and belittling reply so it was decided that a telegram should be sent to Prime Minister A'lami. The campaign that the Imam had started spread quickly and many people joined and supported the movement. Many telegraphs were sent back and forth between the government and the scholars. In addition there were major demonstrations in Qom, Tehran and other cities.

The people's reaction forced the regime to retrace its steps and after around two months it was announced that the aforementioned changes made in the laws of regional elections were not possible and so the laws had to be changed back to their previous system.

 The Shah's white revolution & the second conflict

After the setbacks the government faced in the regional Assembly, the government tried to implement a plan called "the white Revolution". This was introduced by the U.S President, Kennedy. This plan supposedly protected pro-American countries such as Iran from falling into the Soviet Union's snare by introducing a series of economic and land reforms.

This plan had six items, which were to be carried out. It was presented in a way which didn't look bad to many people. However, the Imam's sharp eyes soon found out the real reason behind such measures. He could see that behind this colorful curtain there was nothing except U.S domination. Thus, the Imam removed the curtain in order to make people aware of the reality of the matter. He warned people not to fall into such a trap which was laid by the enemies. Imam Khomeini tried his best to awaken the other religious leaders. He made people aware of the depth of the betrayal hidden in these proposals.

Many representatives were sent back and forth between the Shah and the religious scholars. However an agreement was not reached and neither backed down on their views. This resulted in Khomeini issuing a juridical decree which forbade anyone form taking part in the vote to accept or reject the six proposals or principals.

On January the 23rd 1963 the regime's armed forces launched an attack on the people of Qom. The next day the Shah entered Qom. Although the mayor of Qom and other government officials tried hard to make the scholars show up in the Shah's welcoming ceremony, they were not successful. According to the Imam the reasons for this were the following:

"Yesterday a savage attack by government officials was launched on the honorable people and scholars of Qom.  The respectable status of scholars was insulted. Furthermore the inhumane crimes committed against the people of Qom and the community of religious scholars and the attack on the holy sanctuary of the Howzeh has left no room for any dialogue with the government. In addition there no longer exists any possibility of holding talks with the Shah."

 The Imam then stated that only if two conditions were met would talks be held with the Shah. The first condition was removing A'lam from office and the second was ceasing the attacks on the people by the police. It was difficult for the regime to accept both conditions.

The Shah entered Qom on the 25th of January while the police had taken control of the entire city. The majority of the people who were listening to the Shah's speech did not belong to the city of Qom. No scholars or lay people, who lived in the city of Qom, attended the Shah's speech. The Shah became very angry, shouted abuse, and insulted highly ranked scholars. He then left Qom very quickly. This occurrence caused a deep rift between the regime and the religious leaders. As a result the country saw a series of bloody events.

The coming New Year was a different one. Imam Khomeini announced that there should be no celebration this year and that the people should mourn the loss of their brother's and sister's lives. In addition the Imam stated that the "Regime is trying to implement laws, which will endanger the religion and Islam".

 Towards the end of 1963 the Imam made another announcement and said: "The unjust regime should be aware that if it wants to act against Islam and its decrees, and if it wants blasphemy to spread in the Muslim cities, I am ready to stand against it. I will protect Islam and the Muslims until the last moment of my life. So long as I am alive I will not allow anti-Islamic laws to be introduced and practiced. I will not allow the oppressive regime to throw away the freedom of these people."

 Thus when the New Year arrived no celebrations or ceremonies were held.  Suspicious figures under cover, who claimed to be farmers, hanged around. This indicated that there was grave danger lying ahead.

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