Ayatollah Khomeini’s importance to the revolution is hard to overstate. He was not just the unifying figure but its architect and emotional, spiritual touchstone. The crowds that gathered for his return from exile and for his funeral ten years later were some of the largest and most emotional in Iran’s history. In between these events he ruled Iran. [8A])
A senior Shi’ite Muslim cleric (a “Grand Ayatollah”), Khomeini was from the beginning of his public life a devoted enemy of Iran’s then ruler, the Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi and everything the Shah stood for: secularism and Westernization. It was Khomeini’s 1963 arrest that provoked the first massive demonstrations against the Shah, and Khomeini who worked to inspire and lead clerical opposition to the Shah during his 14 years in exile.
Khomeini’s first book was Kashf al-Asrar, aka Secrets Unveiled, was published in 1942 “to little notice,” while Khomeini was still a minor cleric. A short, unsigned book/pamphlet its ostensive theme was a defense of Shi’ism against theological attacks by its Islamic arch-rival the Wahhabi sect. Those who’ve written about Khomeini describe its actual theme as (variously): an attack on Iran’s recently deposed ruler the militant anti-clerical modernizer Reza Shah, on the renegade Shi’a clergymen who had collaborated with the Shah, or on the “growing number of secular intellectuals” in Iran — specifically a popular, influential writer by the name of Ahmad Kasravi. Kasravi was assassinated three years later by Fedayeen of Islam, an early Islamist terrorist group. According to Iranian journalist Amir Taheri, the assassins interpreted Khomeini’s book as a fatwa (Islamic legal decree) calling for Kasravi’s death. [1B]
Khomeini on Killing and Conquest
No complete English translation of the book/pamphlet has ever been published as far as I can tell, but Amir Taheri did translate a snippet of it where Khomeini explains the importance of war, violence and conquest for Muslims:
Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled and incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of [other] countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world.But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world … Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless.
Islam says: kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]?
Islam say: Kill them [the non-Muslims], put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]. Does this mean sitting back until [non-Muslims] overcome us?
Islam says: kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you! Does this mean that we should surrender to the enemy?
Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for Holy Warriors!
There are hundreds of other ayat [Qur'anic verses] and ahadith urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim. [2B]
Some more nuggets from Kashf al-Asrar were translated for The Little Green Book, a book of Khomeini quotes published after the 1979 Islamic Revolution as a takeoff on “The Little Red Book” of legendary Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse Tung.
On the Danger of Music
We affirm that music engenders immorality, lust, and licentiousness, and stifles courage, valor, and the chivalrous spirit; it is forbidden by Quranic laws and must not be taught in the schools.[3B]
On the Danger of any Innovation in Islamic Law
If anyone, in the guise of pursuing Islamic justice, interprets the Law in a manner contrary to the divine will, he has committed the sin of innovation. Learned men are bound to condemn him or they will themselves be condemned. [4B]
On the Impurity and Inferior Status of non-Muslims
Writing in the book’s foreword, Michael M. J. Fischer and Mehdi Abedi compare the status of non-Muslims to dalator “untouchables” in India, and suggesting its grounded more in culture than theology.
There are eleven things which are impure: urine, excrement, sperm, bones, blood, dogs, pigs, non-Moslem men and women, wine, beer, and the sweat of the excrement-eating camel. (#83 (from Resaleh p.48))
Every part of the body of a non-Moslem individual is impure, even the hair on his hand and his body hair, his nails, and all the secretions of his body. (#107 (Resaleh p.51))
The impurity of the non-Muslims is serious enough to go into some detail about. If someone converts to Islam they “automatically” have “a pure body, and pure saliva, nasal secretions, and perspiration.” All clear? Not quite. “As for converts’ clothing, if it has been in contact with their sweating bodies before they became converted, it remains impure.” (Resaleh#207-208)
The Non-Muslim’s impurity also prevents them from being allowed to possess a copy of the Qur’an
One must avoid giving the Koran to an infidel; it is even recommended that it be forcibly taken away from him if he already has it in his hands. (#139 (Resaleh p.54))
– which clashes with another Islamic tenant — that every effort should be made to spread Islam — “until” as Khomeini would say, “the cry `There is no God but God` resounds over the whole world,” [7C]– by persuade non-Muslims to convert (“revert”) to Islam and other means.
Another restriction gives non-Muslims a major financial incentive to convert to Islam
A Moslem will inherit from an infidel but an infidel will not inherit from a Moslem even though he is the deceased’s father or son. (#2783)
In current Islamic Republic of Iran where Khomeini’s fatwa was made law, this is an issue of great concern to the non-Muslim minority. As Parviz Ravani, the Zoroastrian MP complained to journalist Robin Wright, [8C]
… if my child becomes a Muslim, then all my property will go to that child upon my death. None of my other children who didn’t convert will stand to get anything. That extends even to my nephew. If he becomes a Muslim, then all my property would go to him, not my own children.`
On Fornication and Sodomy
Considering the strict and detailed laws on just about everything else, you might assume Khomeini would be especially disapproving on sexual sins. But his fatwas on them seem oddly matter-of-fact
During sexual intercourse, if the penis enters a woman’s vagina or a man’s anus, fully or only as far as the circumcision ring, both partners become impure, even if they have not reached puberty; they must consequently perform their ablutions. (#104 or #349, (Resaleh p.72))
Why a child’sfornicating makes it less in need of purification afterwards is not explained! Nor is why the sodomites wouldn’t be headed off to get their lashes in punishment rather than worrying about proper cleanliness for salat prayer!
If a person fornicates with one’s paternal or maternal aunt before marrying their daughter, he can no longer marry them [i.e. marry their daughters, his cousins]. #2394
But on the other hand if the fornication happens after the marriage to the cousin is agreed upon ….
There is no concern in the [marriage] contract involving a person who marries his own cousin (paternal or maternal) and fornicates with their mother before having intercourse with them [his cousin]. [i.e. there's no question about being able to marry the cousin.] #2395
The same interest in strangely legalistic tangent on fornication goes when gay sex is involved. There are restrictions on who the sodomite may marry, but nothing said about punishment. …
The mother and sister and daughter of a boy who performed sodomy are unlawful to the sodomite even if the doer and giver of sodomy are both minors. … #2405
If he [the sodomite] marries the mother or sister or daughter of a person and then practices sodomy with that person, they do not become unlawful to him. #2406
The same restrictions apply to women from families “related” to the “boy who performed sodomy” as “as a result of suckling”, (i.e. where a woman breast-fed a baby from the other family) #2482.
Bestiality also seems to get light treatment. Fatwas warn of that sodomized animals are impure (#86), should be “taken out of the city and sold elsewhere” if a horse or mule (#2631), or burnt if a cow, sheep or camel (#2632), and that the sodomizer has to clean themselves by ritual bathing (#351). But the only punishment mentioned for the sodomite is reimbursing the animal’s owner if the animal is destroyed.
If they have intercourse with a cow and sheep and camel their [the animals] urine and dung becomes unclean and drinking their milk will also be unlawful and they [the animals] must be killed and burned without delay, and the person who had intercourse with them must pay money to the owner. Further, if he had intercourse with any beast its milk becomes unlawful. #2632.
Was intergenerational fornication and sodomy even between close relatives so common the fatwas were necessary to sort out restrictions on the different variations? Is that why Khomeini makes no mention of punishment for fornication? Had he given up on enforcing that and just hoped the fornicators were ritually clean for their prayers?
Or did Khomeini not talk about punishments because Islamic government was not in power and not in a position to enforce them?
Khomeini on Enjoining the Good and Forbidding the Evil
Traditionally Muslims are commanded not just to preach to others, but to command them to do what is good and not do what is evil – evil being both acts universally agreed to be crimes (larceny, rape, murder, etc), and religious sins (eating pork, drinking wine, ignoring fast during the holy months of Ramadan, etc.). Khomeini’s guidelines on how to deal with sinners start with giving them a warning, then “refraining from conversing” with them, then “breaking all relations with the sinner” (#2807), and work their way up to “beating the sinner” #2823, and finally “wounding and slaying” them. (#2824) Bodily harm is only “acceptable” if “permitted by a fully qualified Expert,” an expert meaning an expert in Islamic law such as the Ayatollah Khomeini.
The idea that slavery no longer exists in Islam not withstanding, the book’s index lists eight questions and clarifications under the heading of slavery. (The book was originally published in 1961!) One (confusing) example concerns the importance of sellers being able to deliver their goods
… selling a horse which has escaped is incorrect, but if an escaped slave is sold together with something deliverable, like a carpet, that deal is correct even though the slave is never found. And in the case other than a slave it is difficult. #2090
Those concerned about any anti-Khomeini bias in the English edition, will be reassured by comments in the book’s foreword. Khomeini’s fatwas discriminating against non-Muslims (we are told) are part of the “defenses of Islam,” which “meld easily into a defiance of colonial subjugation.” Those “who in the early days of the 1978-79 Revolution sought to discredit Khomeini by citing from his Resaleh Towzih al-Masa’il minute rules having to do with how to purify oneself after bodily elimination, after sexual activity, or indeed what exactly constitutes such offenses as bestiality” (allegedly) made themselves ridiculous by “taking these debates to absurd lengths” and displaying “a complete lack of comprehension of the logic of the traditions composing the Risaleh Towzih al-Masa’il.” (Resaleh p.xxviii)) [9C]
And indeed an attempt by at least one Khomeini opponent (Shoja-ud-din Shafa) to publicize Resaleh Towzih al-Masa’il fell flat, leaving Khomeini’s popularity undiminished. [10C] Maybe that’s the most remarkable thing about Resaleh Towzih al-Masa’il: Though it showed him preoccupied with issues more of interest to a medieval village mullah than a revolutionary leader (Khomeini wasn’t a grad student when he “wrote” this book, but nearly 60), it did nothing to slow that mullah on the path leading to the take over a nation of 60 million and creation of a legend. A testament to the shrewdness of Khomeini and the haplessness of his royal opponent perhaps.
Khomeini on Muslim Apostates –
the Different Definitions of, and Punishments for
1 – Apostasy is leaving Islam and accepting infidelity. One who turns from Islam to infidelity is called an apostate and that is of two kinds:
A) innate-apostate, and that is a person that one of his father or mother was Moslem when his seed was being jelled, and who embraced Islam following puberty and then left Islam.
B) National apostate, and that is a person whose father and mother were infidels when his seed was being jelled and he has expressed infidelity after puberty, and became an original infidel (kafar i aslee), then he embraced Islam and later has returned to infidelity; such as a person who originally was a Christian and became a Moslem and then returned to Christianity.[6D]2 – Innate-apostate’s [embracing of] Islam is apparently unacceptable and, if a man, his ruling is execution and, if a woman, she is condemned to prison for life and [with] beating when praying and straitening of livelihood, but her repenting is acceptable and she will freed if she repents
3 – A national apostate will be caused to repent and in case of refusing to repent will be executed. And it is preferable to give a 3 day reprieve and to execute him on the fourth day if he refused.
4 – Puberty, knowledge, volition and intention are credible in ruling on apostasy.
5 – The child of a Moslem or that of an apostate, whether national or innate, is considered Moslem before the father’s apostasy, and therefore, if the child reached puberty and chose infidelity he will be asked to repent (and to return to Islam), else he will be executed.
6 – Apostasy is proven by the witnessing of two just men and by confession.[7D]
So to sum up:
- an adult male who grew up Muslim and then converted to a non-Muslim religion, (an “innate-apostate”) must become a Muslim again or be executed. An adult woman who converts to a non-Muslim religion has the choice of reconverting, or being imprisoned and beaten.
Khomeini on the Rights of Non-Muslim or Women Victims
“Conditions of retaliation,” i.e. under what conditions may a person be killed (executed) as punishment for the killing another:
…. (3) Equality in religion, therefore Moslem will not be retaliated for [killing an] infidel, unless a Moslem has a habit of killing infidels.[8D]
“Mulcts and Blood Money,” a mulct being a penalty or fine, in this case for killing another person:
…. (3) The amount of mulct which has come in the table is for a Moslem man, but the mulct of a Moslem woman will be half of these amounts, i.e. 50 camels or 500 dinars
(4) A tributary’s mulct is 8000 derhams [9D] and the mulct of their women is half of that of their men.[9.1D]
So again to summarize:
(Note: “Equality in religion” means equality inside the different religions, not between the religions. All other things being equal, all Muslims who kill another Muslim are treated equally. Muslims who kill non-Muslims are treated equally, etc. … Okay, it’s not equality between genders inside the religion either. Khomeini must have thought that was too obvious to mention.)
On the “Poll Tax” Charged to Non-Muslims
- A non-Muslim who converted to Islam and then went back to their old faith (a “National apostate”) gets the same, although they get a few days to think it over and repent.
- Although the verbiage of Khomeini and/or his translator isn’t completely clear, it appears Khomeini includes in his definition of apostates some people who NEVER professed the Islamic faith. These are people who grew up as a non-Muslim and remained so but whose father left Islam after they were born. (If a father is a Muslim, so are the children no matter how young.) Having “chosen infidelity” the offspring “will be asked to repent” and “executed” if they refuse.
(This may explain the reasoning behind the persecution of Baha’is in Iran by fundamentalist Shi’a. Those who grew up Baha’i and are not converts are still considered apostates because Baha’ism split off from Shi’a Islam so recently.)
- Capital punishment for the killing of a Muslim is acceptable, but not for the killing of a non-Muslim if the murderer is a Muslim … unless that Muslim is a serial (non-Muslim) killer.
- the fine for the premeditated killing of a Muslim man should be 10,000 derhams, 1000 dinars, or 100 camels.
- 8000 derhams, 800 dinars, or 80 camels for a non-Muslim man a.k.a. a “tributary,” (i.e. a Jew, Christian, or Zoroastrians who “lives under the protection of Islam,” i.e. under a Muslim government and pays tribute).
- 5000 derhams, 500 dinars, etc. for killing a Muslim woman.
- 4000 derhams, etc. for a non-Muslim woman.
On Sex and Women
Finally, there’s a source of quotes from Tahrir al-Vasileh that’s spread throughout the internet to anti-Islamist and anti-Islamic websites. They can be traced back to the website of the “Dr. Darabi Foundation” (a secular, anti-Khomeini non-profit named after a prominent Iranian woman physician woman of the same name who set “herself on fire in a crowded square in northern Tehran, on February 21, 1994 … to protest the oppression of women.”) The foundation declares itself dedicated to combating “all violations of human rights focusing on defending the rights of women against religious, cultural and social abuse.”
Many of the quotes are similar to one’s above from Resaleh Towzih al-Masael, but a couple are even creepier.
Supporters of Khomeini cast doubt on the credibility of the Dr. Darabi Foundation site, pointing out that it also quotes from something called “Tahrir-ol-Masael,” a book allegedly by Khomeini that does not appear to exist. (It’s not listed in very complete database of books found in libraries called WorldCat (http://www.worldcat.org/)).
(Perhaps it’s a cross between Resaleh Towzih al-Masael and Resaleh Towzih al-Masael!)
With that caution, here are some translations from
A man can have sex with animals such as sheep, cows, camels and so on. However he should kill the animal after he has his orgasm. He should not sell the meat to the people in his own village, however selling the meat to the next door village should be fine.
From Khomeini’s book, Tahrirolvasyleh, fourth volume, Darol Elm, Gom, Iran, 1990
Khomeini’s Teachings on sex with infants and animals Islamic Teachings on sex with infants:
A man can have sexual pleasure from a child as young as a baby. However, he should not penetrate. If he penetrates and the child is harmed then he should be responsible for her subsistence all her life. This girl, however would not count as one of his four permanent wives. The man will not be eligible to marry the girl’s sister.
The complete Persian text of this saying can be found in “Ayatollah Khomeini in Tahrirolvasyleh,” Fourth Edition, Darol Elm, Qom