These days Iranians remember the departure from this world of Imam Khomeini, father of a paradigm-shifting revolution – the Islamic Revolution – like few in history. I was first introduced to the person of Imam Khomeini by the 1988 Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker Hollywood comedy film “The Naked Gun” starred by Leslie Nielsen, which I loved to watch as a kid and cracked me up each time I replayed it. The movie introduced us to the world’s most evil leaders, sitting by a table in Beirut, zealously plotting against Western civilization.
Strikingly, it wasn’t Mikhail Gorbachev, Fidel Castro, Muammar Gaddafi, Idi Amin or Yasser Arafat who directed the meeting (Talibans and Saddam Hussein absent, as they were NATO’s ‘good guys’). At the head of the table, and wrapped in simple clothes, sat none but Imam Khomeini. On the same simplicity, the CIA operative Bruce Riedel would note: “Our bosses couldn’t cope with the idea of an 80 year old ayatollah, who lived off onions and garlic and yoghurt, directing a revolution which was about to topple America’s most important ally.” (BBC documentary: “The man who changed the world”)
Before being knocked out with fervor by the American hero, Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker make Imam Khomeini say: “We must conceive of at least one terrorist act that will show the entire world that the United States is… a people ripe for destruction.” Yet you would be disappointed upon calculating the number of Muslim Iranians involved in proven terrorist attacks.
There were over a dozen Saudi citizens and nationals of Egypt, the UAE and Lebanon in 9/11, a Moroccan in Madrid, Pakistanis in London and Mumbai. Yet no member of the Saud family – intellectual authors of their crimes – sits at the table in Hollywood’s Beirut. No Iranian or Khomeini follower was ever there. All those terrorists would even profess hatred to the Shia school of thought prevalent in Iran. A clear example is their ideological mates of Al Qaeda in the Levant and the Free Syrian Army bent on fighting the Iran-backed Bashar Al Assad and Hezballah. So where are Imam Khomeini’s terrorists? In Lebanese battlefields pushing out an occupying army? Does that even fit the definition of terrorism?
Imam Khomeini’s ideology, shared the heritage which drove Europe from its dark ages into a renaissance and age of reason, through the influence of Muslim scientists and philosophers, their research institutions and publications. The existential threat he posed for ‘us’, was not that of terrorism, a nuclear bomb or a powerful conventional army, but rather of a world-view nature – i.e. how people see the world and their own existences, and the politics which result from it. It was the restoration of reasonable spirituality, and a viable alternative to the dishonest – and most times forced – secularization and spread of new-age religious cults that French, British, Russian and American colonialism used to draw world maps and grab lands and resources overseas.
It was a slogan shouting: free from the tides and fashions of our times, we declare that there is a Creator and Sustainer, origin, keeper and destination of everything which exists. Only to it we submit, as everything else will perish. And we resort to no man or material power to tell us how to rule ourselves, for there is no better plan for us to follow than that of the Designer of our own selves and the guidance of those who have not lost sight of Him.
I was a passionate Atheist in the past. I might have considered such slogan crazy or alien to a man of reason or science. Not really because of the existence of any actual logical inconsistency in it, but because it contains key-words and a wording which secular education trains us to dislike and reject – without an actual analysis. However, after being guided back to Islam by means of my academic studies of natural sciences, I think I can reasonably hold on to such slogan and its narrative, backed at it by a father of modern physics with a profound understanding of the far-reaching conclusions of natural science and mathematics:
“There is a higher power, not influenced by our wishes, which finally decides and judges… People have used different words at different times for this ‘Centre’. They called it ‘God’ or spoke in terms of similes… It is there today as it has always been and any world order must be based on it. Such a world order must be guided by men who have not lost sight of it.” Werner Heisenberg, father of quantum physics (Philosophical Problems of Quantum Physics)
Heisenberg was led to this conclusion through reason and his observation and understanding of the nature we can grasp with our material human tools of perception. He says it himself, how all the development of science and philosophy leads us inevitably to such admission:
“Now that we know all our journeying [through the material sciences] can only bring us back to our starting point, we realize that we are unable to reach full understanding no matter how far we travel. The infinity of the universe lies outside this path.” (Ibid)
As Bruce Riedel said, Imam Khomeini was an Ayatallah, a guide who did not lose sight of God. His wealth was not stored in Swiss or insular bank accounts nor in his or his family’s pockets. His capital was inside of himself, in the realm of that eternity Heisenberg referred to. This nature of a threat, and this type of wealth and immaterial storage of it, had a lot to do with the antagonism Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker felt the need to impose on the viewers of their production toward Imam Khomeini and what he stood for, and with how many secular educators (either in classrooms, televisions or street talk) continue to propagate against the political system of Iran to this day. If not due to a political agenda, then due to the lack of reasonable analysis of our human condition.
You may disagree, but the question then remains: if not nuclear bombs, conventional armies or terrorism, why was the ‘threat’ of that simple man considered as the most dangerous and urgent one so as to sit him the head of the table of ‘evilness’?
*German Vogel is a Chilean Scientist and Scholar who studied Islamic thoughts during last five years.