The Imam's speech to a group of students and Iranians residing abroad
Date: December 31, 1978 (AD) / Dey 10, 1357 (AHS) / Safar 1, 1399 (AH)
Place:Neauphle-le-Chateau, Paris, France
Theme: The suitability of the governing body is a factor determining the happiness and well being of nations
Occasion: The recurrent defeat of the corrupt regime's plans and the nation's readiness for taking its destiny into its own hands
I seek refuge in God from the accursed Satan
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
The wretchedness or well being of nations depends on certain factors, one of the most important of which is the suitability of the governing body. If the governing body, if those people in whose hands the destiny of a country lies, are corrupt, they will drag the country into corruption and turn it, in all its dimensions, towards putridity and destruction.
You will note that throughout these fifty years - and I myself have actually lived through this period and am witness to what went on at this time - when the person who headed the country, albeit illegally, was a corrupt person, it followed that most of those who formed the parliaments in Iran were unrighteous, unsuitable people. At the beginning, a number were righteous and suitable (for their role), but they were in the minority.
After the parliaments came the governments whose role it was to take the destiny of a country in their hands, but in this case the governments were unsuitable (for such a role). Following them came those who headed the departments and offices, who held control of the destiny of a department in their hands, most of them were unbefitting such a position. A sound, healthy country cannot be created by people who are unrighteous and unworthy of their position.
There have been people who have held sensitive posts, such as those of prime minister or head of the security organisation, throughout the whole of these past fifteen years of the movement. After doing whatever they wanted for fifteen years, they have now been arrested. The head of the security organisation has also been arrested for offences committed during these fifteen years! He (the Shah) has also had the man who was the prime minister for these fifteen years arrested for thievery and committing other offences! After all this time, even the Shah himself has now come forward and confessed that he broke the law! The people of this regime are now confessing. Even the Shah himself has come forward and said he made mistakes. They themselves have had the head of the security organisation, who has committed acts of aggression against the people of this country for the past fifteen years, arrested for embezzling money and breaking the law. They themselves have had the prime minister, who for nearly fifteen years governed this country, arrested on one charge or another. If they are given a reprieve, then in another fifteen years' time they will be having those presently occupying posts arrested.
Rectitude in a governing body and in the people who hold sensitive posts will create righteousness in the society. If the governing body, and, likewise, those in whose hands the destiny of the country lies - such as those who are in charge of the army, those who are the heads of the army - were virtuous people worthy of their positions, then we would not be in the mess we are in today and I wouldn't be sitting here speaking for you and you wouldn't be spending your time here. The reason why I stopped doing what I normally do, which is carrying out religious studies, and came here, is that we did not have a righteous government, a righteous force was not in control, and they (the Shah and his regime) dragged the country to the brink of non-existence, destroying everything that was found to hold hope (for the country). They did away with Islamic laws; they destroyed our agrarian economy; most of the country's banks were guilty of malfeasance; the ministries were in the hands of unrighteous people; the parliaments were all false, rubber-stamp parliaments whose MPs were not the representatives of the people.
We came here - of course in the beginning it was not my intention to come here (to France), however, because of the perverseness of those in the government, who later realised that this had not been a wise move on their part and regretted it, this was the way things turned out - to spread our message abroad, to make those here understand what has been troubling us (the people of Iran) and what kind of people form these governments who are presently supporting the Shah. We want to make them see what kind of perverse-minded people they are, just what kind of people they are when they don't give a thought to how a population of thirty-odd million are being destroyed at the hands of this Shah and his regime. Now that everything has fallen apart and nothing is left for the Shah, now that everyone has left him alone in his state of fear, these superpowers are still supporting him. Some of these superpowers still continue to support him, but it is as if they are supporting a dead man! He is past support.
Not one of the laws which have been passed during these past fifty years, nor one of the parliaments which have been formed during this period, has conformed to constitutional laws. Up until the present time, we have not had one parliament that was formed according to the law. Only in the beginning of Riza Khan's reign, when his power was not so great, and only in Tehran, which was the capital, were the people given freedom, a limited freedom, to choose their parliamentary representatives. Consequently, it was the representatives from Tehran, such as the late Muddaris and a number of others who were his followers, who put up opposition. In the other cities, the regime itself selected the representatives, prepared the votes for the people and put them in the ballot boxes! Everything was in the hands of the regime, in the hands of the governors of these areas, the army men or police there, all of whom were agents of the regime. At night, they created votes for the people of their choice and filled the ballot boxes with them. From the very beginning, we have never had a parliament all members of which were the nation's choice and wanted to do something about the destiny of our country or could tell the difference between the interests of the state and corruption. My memory stretches back to the early days of Pahlavi rule, whereas you only have recollections of what has gone on in this more recent period. Indeed, you only need to know what went on during this period to know what went on in the former, it's the same story! You will find the same things are being said about the Senate, the Consultative Assembly and the government today, all of the people in them are usurpers, all of them should be put on trial.
The first objection which must be raised against the parliamentary deputies is we must ask them why, when they knew that the nation played no role in the elections, did they enter parliament? Why, when they knew that those appointed were the choice of America or Russia or other powers like them, did they enter parliament? The Shah himself admits that a list of candidates used to be sent (from some foreign embassies), but now he has the fanciful notion that this is no longer the case! (The audience laughs). He now admits that in his father's time, and in the early days of his own rule, embassies would send a list determining who were to be our representatives! He now confirms this, he confesses that this took place, but he now tries to give himself some prestige by claiming that this is not the case nowadays! Very well, let us suppose that this is so, nevertheless a little earlier on in his rule this was the case! What he is saying then, in actual fact, is that at one time, that is before he carried out what he calls his "White Revolution" and became a power to beat all powers (!!), a list was sent from the foreign embassies and he gave in to their wishes! So he is confessing that he was in actual fact a traitor to this country from the beginning! He was someone who wanted to keep his position while at the same time acting treacherously. For does it not constitute betraying the nation when he accepts a list from the American, British or Russian embassies, imposes it on his government and forces it to accept those named therein as representatives? Is this not a betrayal of the country? Is this not a betrayal of the constitutional law? The first objection we have to your (the Shah's) rule is that you came and sat on the throne calling yourself "Imperial Majesty" and proclaiming that you must do everything yourself, yet, as you yourself have confessed, you took these lists and acted in accordance with the orders of foreigners. Does this not constitute treachery? Do you have any justification for this treason? You could have stepped down; you could have stepped down saying that you would not perpetrate such a treacherous act. When they got rid of Ahmad Shah, it was because he refused to sign an agreement that they put before him at the table during a social gathering while he was on a trip abroad. From that moment on, the basis for the plan to get rid of him and put Riza Shah in his place was laid, for they deemed Ahmad Shah to be no longer of any use to them because he would not sign their agreement. You too could have refused to sign the agreement. Would it have cost you more than your position? Someone who betrays a nation for the sake of preserving his position is not fit to reign and was not so from the beginning. He deposed himself at the start. If we ever agreed to a monarchical system we most certainly did not agree that he should be the monarch.
So now he has become powerful and is standing up to Russia, Britain, America and the others. They no longer bring the list from the embassies, rather you yourself prepare it and you yourself supply the names of those who are to be made parliamentary representatives. Does this make them the nation's representatives?! Does not this action of yours constitute a betrayal of the country? Is it not a betrayal of the constitutional law? If this is how the parliament is going to be formed, either on the orders of the embassies or the orders of the Shah and his regime, it makes no difference which, then it will not be a true parliament; it will not be a national parliament; it will not be a national consultative assembly. The meaning of national consultative assembly is that the nation freely appoints its representatives who then sit in parliament conferring with one another about the affairs of the country. In our case though, the nation has had no part in the appointment of its representatives, thus this parliament is not a parliament of the nation, it is a rubber-stamp one, an illegal one. Whatever has come to pass in this parliament is illegal and any government which this parliament has supported in the past or will do in the future is illegal. The people's destiny is not in their own hands, it is the Shah and his regime who appoint whomever they want. Such an unworthy person it is who has appointed them.
One of the political personalities quoted a military figure as saying that this Shah is an expert in selecting the bad eggs! (The audience laughs). He said that if only five corrupt people were to be found in the country, he (the Shah) would put his finger on everyone of them and would choose them! This is because he himself is a corrupt person. A corrupt person cannot introduce a virtuous prime minister. A corrupt person cannot endorse a virtuous parliament. For if the parliament were a virtuous one, it would prevent corruption, as it is the Shah himself is the origin of all corruption. If a virtuous prime minister or a virtuous government were in power, they would not listen to the words of a Shah who wanted to act against the country's interests. When the head of the country is corrupt, he creates a corrupt government and a corrupt parliament. Consequently, the culture and education become corrupt, the army becomes corrupt, the economy becomes corrupt - all of this stems from the badness of that one man, it begins there. If that man, that person who believes himself to be in the top position, were a virtuous person, if he were someone who thought about the nation, someone who saw dependence on foreigners as shameful for himself, someone who was a Muslim, a Muslim who obeyed God's commands - for such a person should not subject himself to the will of foreigners or take commands from foreigners - if such a person were the head of state, he would ameliorate the whole country.
The whole of our country, however, has been plunged into corruption, because he who, according to their laws, should appoint the prime minister, is a corrupt person. He appoints someone who thinks like he does. He cannot install a suitable person in this position, because he would oppose his ideas. He would put an end to his thieving!
Such a person cannot create and support a correct educational system, for this would be in opposition to the designs he has in mind. If we had a correct educational system, we wouldn't be in the state we are in today. They do not allow our country to be reformed in any area. And everything stems from the man at the top. America gave a mission to a person, a "mission for his country"! What an apt name the Shah chose for his book "Mission for my Country"; how true! America gave him a mission for his country: to get it into the state you see it in at present.
Today, they informed me that this man has killed people once again in Tehran, in Khurasan and goodness knows where else. The Shah and his regime have fallen upon the people and are slaughtering them. This wretch, even at the end as he breathes his last breath, as he is set to leave, will not be satisfied until he has perpetrated other massacres. This is what happens when those in whose hands the destiny of a country lies are people who are not worthy of their position, when the parliamentary representatives are not fit to have such a position. Indeed, representatives whom the Shah appoints cannot be people full of the milk of human kindness! They cannot be virtuous people. If the choice were up to the people, they would choose righteous people to represent them in parliament, for this is what they want. If the people were free to choose, they would appoint someone whom they knew to be a good, virtuous man. They wouldn't go for bad people, he who does is himself a bad person. Bad after bad, that is to say a bad ruler's ability to exploit depends on his having bad agents working for him. For were his agents good people, he would not be able to carry out his plans. Without bad agents, orders which stem from his own desires and are for his own gain or that of foreigners would not be carried out. Consequently, a bad ruler chooses bad people, unrighteous people, to work for him. He selects unrighteous people and puts them in the parliament, and naturally an unrighteous parliament will vote for an unrighteous government. Small wonder then that a parliament and a government are formed which do not work for the interests of our country; it can be no other way.
Nothing can be bettered until the basis, until that top position is reformed, or, in other words, until this dynasty is removed. These people have to go. Let them go and take their booty with them to that island they have recently bought! They have bought eight hectares of land there and have been provided with everything. All the family is there. The Shah himself is now preparing to go there to continue to live what many see as his aristocratic life, but what in reality is his deathlike existence.
As long as the foundations of this regime remain and you are kept from taking the destiny of your country into your own hands and freely electing a leader for yourselves, nothing will change. For naturally, if the nation wants to find itself a president, it will not seek one out from the likes of Riza Khan or Muhammad Riza. The people will look for a righteous person, one who is of use to the country and will attend to their needs, as a matter of course. Again, naturally, when the president of a country is a righteous person, it follows that he will steer the country towards righteousness and virtue too. When he decides to form a governing body, he will naturally want righteous people for it. He will not seek the collaboration of thieves, for his aim will be to reform the country. He will seek out virtuous people to work with him to reform the country. When a virtuous government is in place, it follows that the people will be allowed to vote freely, and when that happens, they will select righteous people for the parliament. For not all the people are bad, the majority of them are good, virtuous individuals who want the good of the country. They want it to thrive, to enjoy a sound economy, and they pray for good, honest men to govern. It is only natural that when elections are free and safe from the interference of these unrighteous individuals, righteous people will enter parliament. And when this happens, a virtuous government will be formed, a virtuous president will take control, one who will not act against the interests of the country.
Things have to change at the top, one should begin there. Control of the country should be in the hands of someone who wants to serve the country, not someone who wants to serve his own pocket. The Shah and his regime have been serving their own pockets. You have seen the list that Melli Bank and some other banks published, but this does not tell the full story; this is only the half of it. There is much more that the banks do not know about. The sum of money which the Shah himself is said to have taken is apparently three billion! Three billion, seven hundred million and odd dollars! And this is just the amount that he has sent out of the country recently! We do not know how much he has sent out in the past! You and I will probably never know.
We are asked what we want to do. This is our reply. We want the people of the country to have the authority to designate a president, we want the people of the country to give the authorisation. What will be the outcome of this? Well, the citizens of a country are not the enemies of one another, so the result will be that the foreigners will not be able to bring all the people under their influence. The modus operandi of the foreigners is to put a thieving king to rule over the people, who then places a corrupt government over them and creates a corrupt parliament which puts corrupt people in charge of the departments and offices. Of course, there are many very virtuous people in the offices and departments, but some of them line their pockets, and when this happens corruption sets in. We want none of this.
Our plan is to get the people's opinion through their votes. We will take control of elections out of the hands of the disciplinary forces and place it in the hands of the youth. In each city, when the disciplinary forces, the town and city police and the municipality have been pushed to one side, the youth will take over. It is the nation itself that should guard the polling boxes and take charge of other electoral matters. In each city, and according to the requirements of that city, some of the trustworthy people there, the knowledgeable and those who care for their country, should appoint a number of people to supervise the elections, to guard the polling boxes and oversee the voting. The people should be the ones who appoint someone as their president, and I too will make my choice known to the people so that, if they wish, they may vote for the same person, if not they are free to choose someone else. When the people are free to choose, they will, inevitably, choose a righteous person; the vote of the people will not be erroneous. People do make mistakes, but thirty million do not. It may be that the wrong person is put in power, but if this is the case, then when he makes his first wrong move, this nation will depose him. He will be finished. We say that we, the people, should appoint the country's head. Naturally, when a nation wants to appoint someone to determine the destiny of the country it will appoint an honest person, not a corrupt person. And, naturally, a population of thirty million people will not make the wrong choice.
When the time for the elections arrives, we will announce our choice for presidential candidate. We will search everywhere until we find a person suitable for the job, that is someone who is not a thief, someone who does not want to line his own pockets, someone who has proven himself and whom we know. We will put him forward (as a candidate), even if he is from the class of porters. As long he is a sincere and a knowledgeable person, it does not matter if he is from the working class or if he is a third-class citizen. We will not go for an aristocrat, we seek a suitable person. When this suitable person takes up his position as leader of the country, he will bring a suitable government into being. He will not bring in the wrong government, a corrupt government. Parliamentary elections will be free, the people themselves will oversee them, and a national parliament will be brought into being which will have nothing to do with the Russian embassy, nothing to do with the British embassy and nothing to do with the American embassy, it will be one that will support the interests of neither the one nor the other. We will create such a parliament, God willing. (The audience says God willing).
Once such a parliament has been created, then naturally when a matter is discussed there, discussed by two hundred people, for example, two hundred people who are suitable for their posts, who care about our country, who are not thieves, who do not want to line their pockets, who want to serve this nation and are not simply after a title, they will take into account the interests of the country when making their decisions. If an agreement between our country and another is brought to the parliament for approval, of course it should first be scrutinised by the righteous government itself which will throw it out if it is found to be immoral, but if by any chance the government fails to see its faults and it is sent to parliament, the MPs there will study it and decide whether, on the whole, it is in the nation's interests or to its detriment. This is the kind of system we want, and it is not something which is too far removed from reality.
Our constitution consists of laws which God has told us are basic laws. In this present constitution of ours, there is also a supplementary law - which has not yet been put into practice - stating that any law which contradicts shari`a law is not valid. What we want to do is put this law into practice, we want to act upon it. We will create a country in which virtuous people (rule) . . . Plato says it is the philosophers who should run governments. Philosophers in his sense of the word. Of course, philosophers may also be virtuous people, but the qualification of a ruler in our eyes lies in his virtuousness. We say that the person who should run a country, the person in whose hands we want to place our destiny should be someone whom the people have selected and who has come to the fore through the votes of the people. When this person acquires leadership through the votes of the people, he will, inevitably, be a virtuous man. Consequently, just as you have witnessed how one mangy goat has been able to infect the whole nation, (laughter from the audience), so too when a virtuous person, a true human being is head of state, he will create a sound, healthy country. The universities will become proper universities, not like those we have today. Even after fifty years or so of having universities, a doctor still has to be brought in from abroad to perform a tonsillectomy. This is shameful for us; we have had universities for fifty years, or maybe less, yet as they themselves admit, these universities have until now not been able to present us with one proper doctor. People are even sent abroad to be treated; when someone falls ill, he is told to go to England for treatment. Why? Because the education is not right. They do not give us a proper education. It's not that the people in the East do not have the aptitude, no, this is a mistaken notion. And it's not because the East has sun, or the Eastern countries enjoy a sunny climate, whereas the West has no sun, as you see here, that the West is more advanced. No, it's because these leaders here have had a modicum of suitability, they went after their country's interests. However, their suitability was only good for themselves, they trained their own people properly, but, for us, many of them were harmful. If we had one proper university, abilities would blossom beneath the sun of the East, skills would blossom. This is what we want.
There are those who say the Shah must go, but then ask: what will happen when he does go? What do you think will happen? Will the world come to an end? What does the Shah do for us apart from kill people? What service is he presently doing for our country that will be lost if he goes? What void would be created? Yes, there would be a void for the killings would stop! We want a country whose destiny is in the hands of the people. If the people install a president whom they at first believe to be suitable but who misuses his power once he attains it, we want them to be able to put a stop to this, for we want the authority of the president to lie with the people. Whenever they say no, then it means no. We don't want a set-up like that in Iran today where the bayonet prevails. For one year now cries of "no" have rung out in the streets, yet still there is someone who proclaims that this is not what the people are saying! What do you want the people to say? What else are the people doing other than spending their nights shouting that they don't want the Shah? Still one perverse individual continues to say that this is not what the people are saying! How can someone deny this? To whom should the people air their grievances? Where should they air them for them to be heard? They go onto the streets shouting "no," they go onto the rooftops at night, in the middle of the night, and during the day shouting "no." For a year now they have been shouting that they don't want the Shah; what else do they have to say? To whom should they say it? We want this man to leave and these governments to leave us to see to our own affairs. We will select a suitable person . . . and the West need not be afraid that we will fall under Russian influence nor should Russia fear that we will show the West special favour. No, we will neither be on one side nor the other.
The idea is being propagated that Russia has a hand in this movement! Who is Russia to interfere (in our movement)? (The audience laughs). What does Russia have to do with us? Russia cannot have someone interfere in our movement. Is it Russia who is telling everyone to call for Islam? Russia is opposed to Islam, so how could it do such a thing? Such talk is nonsense. When a nation has stood up saying: "We want an Islamic government, we want nothing other than an Islamic government"; then should it be said that unbelievers have told them to say this?! Neither Russia nor the West has a hand in our movement. This is something of our own doing. The people are now saying they want to administer their affairs themselves.
The nation needs you young people, but first there is one thing which you must do, you must reform yourselves. You must strive to reform yourselves to prevent yourselves from turning into traitors. He who goes into a shop or department store here abroad and is crooked, (God forbid), and steals something using the logic that they have been stealing from us so we can steal from them, is a traitor. Such a person is of no use to us. Reform yourselves. He who does not put his affairs right with God cannot handle the affairs of the people. You must put your affairs right with God first. We need young people who can be trained in human education, that is Islamic education, who can become true human beings. We are not indifferent, we do not want just anyone and whatever he turns out to be like, dissolute and I don't know what else, it won't matter. We want a country which is an Islamic country. Islamic means like a human being. The Qur'an is a book designed to produce (true) human beings. Islam is an ideology intended to create (true) human beings - a human being in all the dimensions that he possesses. If a person were to practise the ideology of true Islam within himself, then it would be impossible for him to intentionally do something wrong, and of course it would be impossible for him to betray his brother.
We want such an ideology, one that when it first starts to train the people directs them towards the development of the excellence of the human being. You look around yourselves in the world, can you find an ideology like Islam which has laws aimed at making man a true human being even before he has been born, before his parents have married? All of the world's ideologies deal with people who have reached puberty and who are active members of society. Islam, however, aims to perfect man even before he is born, before his parents marry, by stating what kind of spouse a man and a woman should choose. Why does it do this? Because the husband and wife are the origin of an individual or individuals and Islam wants these individuals, who are to be handed over to society, to be righteous individuals. So before a couple marry, Islam stipulates what kind of a woman the man's prospective wife should be and what kind of a man the woman's prospective husband should be, what kind of personalities they should have, how they should behave and in what kind of family they should have been brought up. After marriage too, Islam stipulates how the husband and wife should treat each other. Islam has laid down rules that pertain to the period when the woman is with child, and to the delivery of the child. It also specifies how a child should be reared. Islam provides laws and instructions for all of these matters so that this child that is produced from these two people will be a virtuous individual in the society and righteousness will reign throughout the world.
This is Islam. Islam seeks to create true human beings and it sets out to do this even before the child is born, before its parents have even married. It begins there and has laid down laws that cover this period and the period after the child has come into the world: it stipulates the duties that are incumbent upon the parents while the child is being suckled; it specifies how the child should be reared by the parents, how he should be treated later in the elementary and high schools and what the teachers there should be like. Then when the child reaches the age of independence, the age at which he must make his own decisions, Islam tells him what kind of a person he should be, what he should and shouldn't do. Islam does this because it wants the people in society to be righteous, sound individuals. If that which Islam wants were to come to pass - some of it has and some of it hasn't, most of it hasn't - there would be no stealing and no treason. None of these things that we see today would happen. No one would act unjustly towards other people. This is how we want things to be. We say we want an Islamic government, but don't think that this means once we have established it we will pick up the sword and behead everyone! Or we will push all the women aside, wrap them in a shroud or lock them up in the house! This is not what Islam is all about; such things have nothing to do with Islam. When we say we want to establish an Islamic government some people assert that if they do this they will kill all the Jews and Christians, this is all talk that the Shah makes his agents say in his attempt to keep his corrupt throne! He will resort to anything. The law of Islam demands that we treat all Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and people from other nations who are residing in our country well and in a just manner. We are the followers of he who, upon hearing that an anklet had been stolen from the foot of a Jewish woman (in his realm), exclaimed: "If a person were to die in circumstances such as mine, no one would reproach him." We want to be under the leadership of such a man.
We are not sitting here doing nothing, waiting for everything to finish, no, we have a programme, a logical, temporal programme. Of course Mr. Carter will not like this programme of ours. The American world too will not like it, just as those who want to plunder our country will not, but the rest of the world will. The American leaders say one thing but at the same time their philosophers, their religious men, write thanking me and expressing their support for the Iranian nation. It is not as if the American people themselves are opposed to our interests, they agree with us and they regret the actions of their government. It is these governments which are corrupt. It is like someone thinking that because this is the way Muhammad Riza Khan is, this is the way the nation of Iran is too! No, the nation of Iran is separate from this regime, they are not connected.
That which I would like to emphasise to you gentlemen, and it is something I should constantly repeat, is that you must reform yourselves. Strive to purify yourselves. Make your actions conform with the laws of Islam, your behaviour conform with the laws of Islam, with the laws that God has given us. God knows how things should be done, how man should be trained. When His order is acted upon, a righteous person enters the world, and should this person become a minister, he will be a righteous one; should he become a lawyer, he will be a righteous one; should he become a prime minister, he will be a righteous one; and should he become a shop keeper, he will be a righteous one. Wherever he goes he will be a good, righteous person and he will make those around him good too.
May God grant you all success. (The audience says Amen(.
May you all succeed in reforming yourselves (amen from the audience) and your country. (Amen from the audience(.