Imam Khomeini constructed Iran’s political system based on Islam
By Xavier Villar
On the 34th anniversary of the passing of Imam Khomeini, the architect of the Islamic Revolution, his figure remains crucial not only to understanding the current political landscape of the Islamic Republic but also to comprehend the general discourse in the Muslim world.
We can decipher Islamic discourse as one that seeks for Islam to become the central political point in Muslim communities.
Islamism should not be confused with the concept of Islamization, which is merely the granting of certain visibility to Islam in cultural spaces without necessarily translating into the articulation of Islam as a language in international relations, public policies, etc.
The School of Imam Khomeini has understood that the Orientalist perspective continues to be the framework from which Muslim populations located outside the Eurocentric narrative are observed.
Orientalism perceives Western ideology or paradigm as universal and capable of being used, without any issues, to comprehend and explain non-Western phenomena. It is important to consider that for the School of Imam Khomeini, the West is not merely a geographical location but an ideology.
According to Islamists, the normative Western perspective holds that Islam cannot be constructed as a political tool. Therefore, discussing Islam as a political identity alternative to the West-backed Pahlavi regime would be a distraction from the primary causes of the revolution.
Islam would still be seen as an epiphenomenon, a smokescreen.
From Iran, specifically from the political articulation of Imam Khomeini, it is considered that the Islamic revolution was an event triggered, among other reasons, against Eurocentrism.
It was not only about the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty (1925-1979) but also about breaking away from the Orientalist framework that views Muslims as lacking agency. This anti-Eurocentrism was manifested in attempts to achieve a cultural transformation aimed at "de-Westernizing" Iranian society.
Revolution minus Western grammar
Islamist historiography perceives this Revolution as the first one that did not follow Western grammar, making it unpredictable for academics and experts.
The example often cited is the book "Iran: Dictatorship and Development" written by Fred Halliday months before the 1979 revolution. The book attempts to predict possible scenarios once the Pahlavi dynasty disappeared, which was already evident at that time.
However, Halliday never considers the possibility of an Islamic Revolution among his various predictions. Instead, he discusses nationalist government, socialism, a new monarchy, and so on.
Thus, it is evident, the idea of using Islamic language to achieve political emancipation was and continues to be unimaginable in the Western narrative.
Islamism argues that Imam Khomeini constructed an autonomous identity with Islam as its focal point. According to this interpretation, the founder would have denied the universality of Western epistemology while simultaneously challenging the known historical sequence from Plato to NATO.
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