The Iranian Revolution is termed as one of the biggest revolution by historians in the past 100 years. The revolution replaced the royalty kingdom of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi which had ruled for 2500 years with the theocracy of Ayatollah Khomeini in an Islamic republic (Arjomand 384). This revolution is considered as one of the major changing factors in the Islamic world, it opened the residents of the Islamic states to new realities especially the riches of oil and how they are being controlled indirectly by the western powers.
The Iranian revolution in 1979 was started by a large alliance of classes and the religious groups in Iran. The classes had similar socio-political, religious and economic agendas; their main focus was to end the monarchy of Shah Mohammed and bring to an end his dictatorial style of governance (Arjomand 390). This is contrary to most of the popular western reports which suggested only a certain group and class were involved in ousting the monarchical reign of Shah Mohammed (Guerrero et al., 89).
The revolution was led by Ayatollah Khomeini who was in exile in Paris. The religious sects who supported revolution believed that Islamic practises had to be upheld and the modern acts destroyed. This gave Ayatollah and the reformists the motivation to what they considered a non-Islamic and dictatorial rule of Shah Mohammed Reza. The revolution was to bring Islamic revivalism in the country affected by modernization; it brought to an end the use of political power to oppress the people especially the violence that was being done by the secret police. The revolution was to counter the rising income inequality and growing corruption activities in enhanced by the members of the oligarchic economic elites close to Shah Mohammed Reza
According to Arjomand (403) the groups and organizations involved in the revolution were dissatisfied with the restrictions the regime had introduced in accessing the political process and the placement of Iran's huge oil revenues to Shah's close allies only. The groups and the organization had a perception that Iran was losing its traditional values and cultures to the western cultures. Shah was considered a "darling to the West" (Ostovar 270), his regime had imposed a modernized culture rapidly and forcefully, and the political institutions in the regime did not adapt to the changing economic and social aspects of the Iranian people.
The year 1978 had begun well for Shah Mohammed Reza; he had been scheduled to meet with the US President Jimmy Carter for the New Year's Eve celebration. According to Ostovar (271), Carter had praised the leadership of Shah in Iran and labelled Iran as "an island of stability" (Ostovar 270) even though the country was troubled due to protests and riots. The people of Iran viewed the event as one of the ways of eroding their traditions and culture. The New Year Event between Jimmy Carter and Shah Mohammed Reza worsened the social crisis in Iran and it was considered as an act of rebellion by the monarchy. The event led to Shah Mohammed Reza having more problems with the Shiite Clerics (sic) who were against his modernization and increased social freedoms. It caused a movement to emerge between the nationalist and the fundamentalist who were against the regime friendship with the western world. The people of Iran resented the western being involved in Iran which was seen as the case in the event.
Ayatollah Khomeini was born and grew up in Tehran. According to Guerrero et al. (105), he was a Shia cleric who suggested establishing a different system of Islamic government without disregarding the monarchy in Iran. In the year 1962, he changed his mind and started to speak against the Shah Mohammed Reza monarchy reign. Ayatollah became the leader of the religious sect groups that were opposed to Shah. He was later sent to exile in Iraq by the ruling regime in 1964 after he released a speech criticising the ruling of Shah Mohammed Reza. His appeal against the regime was not merely founded on religion.
In 1962, Ayatollah Khomeini became politically active; he persuaded the senior marjas of Qom against Shah Referendum, where according to Arjomand (412) he had plans to seek the approval for the White Revolution. Ayatollah went ahead with the public denunciation of the monarchy; he issued manifestos which had signatures of senior scholars listing how the regime had bowed to the US and how the monarchy had caused widespread moral corruption in Iran.
He had different political thoughts and legacy which enabled him to successfully orchestrate the Iranian revolution. He was strongly opposed to the monarchy; he maintained the only ruling by an Islamic ruling that would be accepted is the one that would ensure that Shariat-e-Muhammadi laws are obeyed. Ayatollah ideas were considered by the reformists by the learned before the revolution.
Ayatollah Khomeini defined democracy from an Islamic perspective. His last testament focussed more on encouraging the Iranian population and the lower social status sects especially the clergy to be fully committed to the Islamic religion and ides. He encouraged people to strive towards self-confidence; his vision was the Islamic states to be united in purpose and a form a unified strong power. According to Ostovar (276), he supported the banning of western cultures because they led to moral decadence and had a corrupting effect on the Iranian youths.
According to Arjomand (410), Ayatollah Khomeini personality was one of the major factors that defined the Iranian revolution. Ayatollah considers his personal enemies in the same line with the Iranian enemies and he preferred revenge to people who inflicted his pain, which influenced the revolution even more. He had deep religious ideologies which attracted more Iranians especially the peasant-oriented population. He used his religious understanding to counter Shah Mohammed Reza nationalism which was more about personal glory. According to Ostovar (307), his faith enabled him to confront and overcome foes even in hostile environments.
According to Ostovar (281), Ayatollah mobilized opposition forces that were against the monarchical dictatorial regime. He based the revolution on longstanding social, economic and political grievances. The revolution was not only to overthrow the monarchical regime but also to improve the lives of the nationalist and empower them on their sentiments against the state that was hell bend to introduce foreign interests, cultures and traditions. Ayatollah leadership was termed conservative and it was based on the Islamic faith.
Ayatollah ensured that the revolution main ideology was based on the needs of the people and radical order and controlled activities. He ensured the revolution is supported by the pre-existing ideas; this helped it to sustain domestic support from the Iranian population. He denounced any foreign idea and secularism which he referred to as an insult to Islam. He had links with other foreign nations but he never let them interfere with the revolution.
The Iranian revolution in 1979 was one of the epochal events in the past century. This revolution opened the eyes of many Iranians to the wake of different realities in the huge oil revenues. The revolution main causes were social, political, economic and religious factors. The groups and organizations that were involved were from different classes and status. The revolution was considered as one of the major changing factors in the Islamic world. The revolution was led by Ayatollah Khomeini who was in exile in Paris after speaking against the monarchy. Before the revolution occurred the leader of the monarchy regime had a New Year event with the US president, this act did not augur well with the Iranian people as they saw it as the west meddling into their domestic affairs. The leader of the revolution Ayatollah Khomeini who was a Shariat cleric in exile played a big role in the revolution, he defined the revolution based on his character and beliefs. He was involved in mobilizing the groups and organisation against the regime. Lastly, Ayatollah ensured the revolution core ideology was the need of the people and then it was based on the pre-existing ideas to sustain its domestic support.
Arjomand, Said Amir. "Iran's Islamic Revolution in comparative perspective." World Politics 38.3 (1986): pp. 383-414.
Guerrero, Javier Gil, and Javier Gil Guerrero. Carter Administration and the Fall of Iran? s Pahlavi Dynasty. Palgrave Macmillan US, 2016.
Ostovar, Afshon P. "Guardians of the Islamic Revolution Ideology, Politics, and the Development of Military Power in Iran (1979-2009)." (2009). pp. 252-397
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