NOTE: What follows is the first significant translation of the newly-released book, ‘Palestine’ by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameini. The page numbers below refer to the original PDF in Farsi (available here). This page will be updated as more of the book is available in translation.
As Jonathan Tobin writes at Commentary:
The Khamenei Palestine book is important not in and of itself but because the regime’s obsession with Israel is a key to its foreign policy. Iran constitutes a grave threat to Neighboring Arab countries that are at least as angry about the president’s embrace of Tehran as the Israelis since their nuclear status would undermine their security. But as much as Iran is focused on regional hegemony in which Sunni states would be brought to heel, as Khamenei’s Palestine illustrates, it is the fixation on Israel and Zionism that really animates their expansionism and aid for terror groups.
As Taheri notes in his article on the book, Khamenei distinguishes his idée fixe about destroying Israel from European anti-Semitism. Rather, he insists, that his policy derives from “well established Islamic principles.” Chief among them is the idea that any land that was once ruled by Muslims cannot be conceded to non-believers no matter who lives there now. While the Muslim world seems to understand that they’re not getting Spain back, the territory that constitutes the state of Israel is something else. Its central location in the middle of the Muslim and Arab worlds and the fact that Jews, a despised minority people, now rule it makes its existence particularly objectionable to Islamists like Khamenei.
Introduction by Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati
The role of Shia Ulama [Islamic leaders] in the complicated issue of Palestine has steadily moved toward reaching its goal. The issue of Palestine has had many extensive, large-scale reflections all around the world. The way Shia Ulamas, [scholars] including Motaharri, dealt with the issue of Palestine was to rely on Allah internally and on Muslims externally, which enabled them to fight against the oppressors with all their might. Having this in mind, it is worth it to know how this class of Muslim scholars approached the issue of Palestine and Zionism.
Mohammd Hasan Ibn Mohammad Ibrahim Gilani, one of these scholars, who in his own time had experienced an issue of occupation, as the Israeli-Palestine issue, emphasizes Jihad as a mandatory Islamic duty on Muslims’ shoulders. He states, “If the people of darkness and blasphemy attack Muslims’ lands and try to establish a non-Islamic political system in that land, jihad becomes a compulsory religious duty for all Muslims who are able to use a weapon. Sheikh Mohammad Reza Hamedani, who lived in 19th century, in his book, Trqib Ul Musliemin Ela Difa Ul Moshrekin [Encouraging Muslims to resist non-Muslims] expressly writes, “ The purpose of jihad is to preserve the seed of Islam and granting Islam prosperity and superiority. Until reaching that goal, the duty of jihad is compulsory.”
By studying the contemporary history of Shia movements, we see how this class of Muslim scholars, even in difficult situations when the foundation of Islamic society was under attack from everywhere, led Muslims in waging jihad. They meticulously analyzed the situation and recognized the colonists’ long-term plan. In various circumstances, these scholars created obstacles in the way of the colonists and prevented them from reaching their ultimate goal. For example, in Iraq, the British Army tried to subjugate Iraqis, suppress their uprisings, and divert Iraqis’ attention from revolting against them. They created an atmosphere of fear among Iraqis, not knowing that the Iraqi Shia Ulama [Muslim religious leaders] would disappoint them. An Iraqi Muslim scholar who lived during World War I recorded his observations of Najaf Shia uprising and its causes. He wrote,
Some people believe that only because of Islam and Islamic honor the crusaders could not dominate Najaf and rule over this city, which is the center of religion and the apple of the eye of Shia Muslims. Islamic honor prevented the crusaders from placing the flag of trinity over monotheism.
Islamic sources and faith enabled the Ulama to fulfill their Islamic duty regarding the issue of Palestine. Examining the movement that Shia religious leaders initiated and comparing it with their current day position toward the issue of Palestine proves that Shia Ulamas are among the most persistent and non-compromising Islamic leaders who have shown resistance to the danger of Zionism. In response to a question from Mohammad Sabri Abedin, Agha Mohammad Hossain aul Kashif al-Quta, who was the highest-ranking Muslim scholar in Najaf, wrote, “The worst type of oppression is forgetting about Islamic duties and disrespecting the Quran by disobeying its commands.”
Regarding selling Palestine land to Jews and its Islamic ruling about these types of transactions, Kashif al Quta states, “Don’t you even realize that selling land to the Jews in general and being involved in the transaction as agents or the like is tantamount to fighting against Allah and his prophet and destroying the religion of Islam? Those who participate in such transaction are out of the religion and consequently infidels. Do not do business with those who are involved in such transactions. Do not marry them. When they die, do not let them to be buried in Muslims’ cemeteries. You should make a list of apostates, mention their names in there, and publicize it.” [Note: Being recognized apostate allows Muslim to kill the person, make his wives and children slave, and appropriate his property.]
The Ulama’s objection to the two-state Solution in the United Nations was the first formal confrontation between the Islamic scholars [Ulama] and the West, which highlighted the role of Iraqi scholars in resisting against the West. Shia leaders like, Hebbat Ul Din Shahrestani, Sayyed Mehdi Sadr, Sayyed Mohammad Mehdi Isfahani, Sheikh Razi Aul Yassin, Yusuf Ata, Habib al Ubaidi, and Ibrahim Ravi, sent a telegraph to both the United Nations and the United Kingdom Department of State, expressing,
Hereby, we the delegates of Islamic legal schools announce our dissatisfaction to the two-state solution, which is aiming to strike at the heart of Arabs and Muslims.
Ayatollah Sayyed Abul Hasan Isfahani, another high-ranking Muslim scholar, wrote a note to the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad asking Iranians to double their efforts in the United Nations for Palestinian rights. Accordingly, Kashi al-Quta wrote a letter to Malik Ghazi, the king of Iraq, encouraging him to adopt the same tactic in the United Nations and support Palestinians. He warned the king and the British officials that the only choice they have is to issue a fatwa for Jihad.
Al-Nahar, a Baghdad newspaper, reported that [in the 1950s] Muslim scholars gathered around Imam Ali’s Shrine in Najaf and discussed the possibility of issuing the fatwa of jihad. Ulama from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Turkey, Afghanistan, and Arab Gulf countries were invited and Kashif al Quta issued the fatwa for jihad. The issued fatwa stated,
O, Muslims, Arabs, brothers, and human beings! A situation in which the beheaded Palestine is trapped, is obvious. As I have said before, the issue of Palestine is not just an Arab-Muslim issue. Every human being has to wage jihad. Hereby I send a public invitation to Arabs and Muslims. Allah is my witness that if I were not old and sick, I would be the first person to make jihad against Israel.
In another fatwa, Kashif al Quta, classified the Islamic world and assigned each one of them to perform their duty of jihad regarding Palestine. The first country he addressed was Jordan. He believed, since the Hashemite family runs Jordan and they are decedents of the prophet, they are the ones who need to initiate jihad. After Jordan, he addressed Hijaz [Saudi Arabia]. He said, “Since Islam shone in that land, Saudis also should be a part of the jihad.” Kashif al Quta also assigned Syria and Egypt for the reason that they are Palestine’s neighbor.
In the 1960s, Imam Khomeini started his transparent and relentless movement, which played a pivotal role in the realm of politics and the establishment of a new wave called “Islamic Awakening.” Islamic awakening in Iran and in the Islamic world aimed to first topple the Pahlavi regime and replace it with an Islamic republic system and second, to wage Jihad in the region against Zionism in an effort to emancipate Palestine. Globally, the movement is going to confront the United States as the symbol of injustice. In one sentence, Imam Khomeini’s purpose of struggle is to emancipate Iran and the Islamic world from the superpowers’ bondage, restore honor to Islam, and establish an Islamic government based on Islamic principles.
With persistence and honesty, Imam Khomeini raised the flag of the emancipation of Quds and Palestine. The chain of resistance against Zionists is currently more evolved. Today, the resistance line starts from Iran and covers Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza, West Bank, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Yemen, Bahrain, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. This new wave of Islamic awakening, which was initiated by Imam Khomeini, is now stronger than ever. Cutting the hand of the United States from Islamic countries, establishing Islamic government and restoring Islamic values, and emancipating the whole of Palestine are our objectives.
Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati
[Biographical Note on Ali Akbar Velayati: Velayati was born in Rostamabad village in Shemiran, Tehran, on 24 June 1945. He was admitted to Tehran University of medical sciences in 1964. Velayati finished his studies in pediatrics and moved to Johns Hopkins University for a fellowship in infectious diseases. Velayati taught at a university and was an active member of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution, Expediency Council and Islamic Encyclopedia Foundation. During the rule of Mohammad Reza Shah, Velayati was arrested by the intelligence service when he was only seventeen. After the Islamic Revolution, and under Mousavi, the former Iranian prime minister, Velayati served as the minister of foreign affairs. After Hashemi Rafsanjani became the president of Iran, he retained his position until 1997. Since then he has been an advisor on international affairs to the Supreme Leader of Iran. In November 2006, Argentine Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corra issued an international arrest warrants for Velayati and six other Iranians and one Lebanese in connection with the AMIA terror attack in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which killed 85 people and seriously injured151. The attack on the Jewish Cultural Center came two years after the 1992 terrorist bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. Velayati has been on the official Wanted list of Interpol since March 2007 charged with “Aggravated Murder and Damages” related to the 1994 AMIA bombing case. The arrest warrant is based on the allegation that senior Iranian officials planned the attack in an August 1993 meeting, including Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, Mohammad Hejazi, Khamanei’s intelligence and security advisor, Rafsanjani, then president, Ali Fallahian, then intelligence minister, and Velayati, then foreign minister.]
In 1960s, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini started his transparent and relentless movement, which played a pivotal role in the realm of politics and the establishment of a new wave called, “the Islamic Awakening.” The Islamic Awakening in Iran and in the Islamic world aimed to first topple the Pahlavi regime and replace it with an Islamic Republic system and, second, to wage Jihad in the region against Zionism in an effort to emancipate Palestine. Globally, the movement is going to confront the United States as the symbol of injustice. In one sentence, Imam Khomeini’s purpose of struggle is to emancipate Iran and the Islamic world from the superpowers’ bondage; to restore the honor to Islam; and to establish an Islamic government based on Islamic principles.
With persistence and honesty, Imam Khomeini raised the flag of the emancipation of Quds [Jerusalem] and Palestine. The chain of resistance against Zionists is currently more evolved. Today, the resistance line starts from Iran and covers Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza, West Bank, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Yemen, Bahrein, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. This new wave of Islamic Awakening, which was initiated by Imam Khomeini, is now stronger than ever. Cutting the hand of the United States from Islamic countries, establishing Islamic governments and restoring Islamic values, and emancipating the whole Palestine are our objectives.
For us, [the liberation of Jerusalem] Quds and Palestine are very significant and splendid issues. Today [Quds Day] is when all the oppressed people armed with the spirit of faith and reliance on Allah would break the back of all unjust superpowers, the Imperialism of the United States and its Zionist servants. We should not be satisfied with what we have [the Islamic Revolution] within our borders; we should not think we are done. Until this stinky wound and infected gland called “the Israeli Government” is in the heart of Islamic territories, we cannot feel we have won.
From the beginning of the Islamic Revolution in Iran to the present time, Palestine remains a burning issue for the Muslims of the world. The centrality of Palestine for the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Muslim world is undeniable. Even before to the Islamic Revolution, Palestine, the Palestinian people, and the injustice they were experiencing were important issues for Imam Khomeini and the movement he led. We cannot observe and tolerate the existence and presence of the enemy who has occupied the land.
Palestine is the most important issue of the Islamic world. Palestine is the most important issue of the world of Islam. There is not any other international issue in the world of Islam more important than the issue of Palestine. The reason is that the domination of the occupiers of Palestine and Quds is the source other weaknesses and problems in the Islamic world. One might ask about the future of Palestine and Quds. Let me educate you and give you some information: As we broke down and destroyed the robust, undefeatable gates of the imperialist regime of the Shah, we can defeat the legendary power of the superpowers.
We should learn from the Quran in which Allah addresses Israel saying:
“O children of Israel! Indeed, you would do mischief in land twice and you will become tyrants and extremely arrogant.” [Surah Al-Isra’ 17:4-8]
Allah’s soldiers will come to punish you for the corruption you did on Earth. Any nation that walks on the path of Allah—with the weapon of truth and justice—Allah will help him. But any nation that makes mischief, oppresses the people, and ignores humanity will be destroyed and perished.
Imperialists, the enemy of human beings, planted this infected cancer gland within Islamic-Arabic territory. Today this gland has grown and become the cause of division among Muslim governments. You see how the leaders of Islamic countries who call themselves Muslims do not perform their Islamic duty about the issue of Palestine. Why? Because they have been busied with internal problems. Where their problems have come from? From this infected gland named “Israel” that was created by the superpowers.
Today, Palestinians have risen up. The Quran in Surah 17:7 has addressed Palestinians saying, “If you do good. You have done this to yourself.” If you do jihad in the cause of Allah, if you obey Allah’s command and fight against the enemy of humanity and the religion of truth, O Palestinian Muslims, you have done a good thing that benefits you. When we create a glorious Islamic power in the region, this power can punch superpowers in the mouth. Then, the Muslim nations will never suffer from hunger, poverty, and oppression.
We, the revolutionary Muslim people of Iran—after successfully getting the attention of the entire world by punching the American imperialists in the mouth—should take another big step: We should teach Arab nations how to fight for Palestine and Palestinians rights sacrificially. As I said before, the issue of Palestine is an Islamic humanitarian issue. It is humanitarian because group of anti-human criminals, who know nothing but hegemony and trespassing, have gathered to plot against other nations and governments. Today, they help our enemies, some of whom share borders with us. Palestine is also an Islamic issue for us: Islam has obligated us to defend other Muslims and their lands; it has obligated us to fight for the rights of oppressed peoples; it has obligated us to answer to our Muslim brothers and sisters call for help with our property and lives.
Palestinians have been calling for help from other Muslims for decades. Which one of these Arab governments has answered the call for help from their Palestinian Muslim brothers? They just used the issue of Palestine for their political advertisements, just to attract their people for political purposes. I address North African and Middle Eastern governments. I address the Gulf States. Which one of you all has done the Islamic duty of helping your Palestinian brothers?
Take the issue of Quds and Palestine seriously. Bayt Ul Moqaddas was Muslims’ first Qibla [the direction that should be faced when a Muslim prays]. This [holy place] is under the control of antihuman Zionist occupiers, and needs to be emancipated. The land of Palestine has to be freed and returned to its own people. They might ask, “How would you wipe a country, which is under the protection of the superpowers, off the map?” A resolve that comes from faith eases any difficulty; it makes every miracle possible.
The Islamic Revolution of Iran would become the mother of all other Islamic revolutions throughout the region. After your triumphant Revolution, the passion for Islamic values is boiling in the region. Today, many movements based on Islamic ideology are seeking freedom. This fire continues to give off flames. You should continue. You should know that those you inspire, other Revolutions, would come to your help whenever you need them. That the Islamic Revolution continues to live disappoints the United States, and has done so thusfar.
Today we face two factors to deal with. One problem is the Imperialism of the United States and its agent and proxy in the region, the Occupier Government of Israel—on which we should put pressure, and seek its destruction. This government is the expression and visualization [the agent and proxy] of the American hegemony. Another factor is the issue of inviting oppressed Arab nations to rise up against their oppressors.
Today—on behalf of you the people of Tehran who have gathered here in the Day of Quds [Jerusalem Day]—I tell the other nations to learn from our experience. Look at the miracle Allah has done through the Iranian people, and encourage others to move [in this direction]. As our Imam and leader mentioned, there are more than one billion Muslims around the world. This is a huge and marvelous power. If every one of us through a pebble toward Israel, this nation would be buried under a pile of pebbles.
O Muslim nations, [Quds Day] belongs to you as well. We should get ready and arm ourselves with military weapons and equipment. Improve the quality of your weapons. We have the issue of Palestine, the concern of the Imperialism of the United States, and plots and conspiracies. As Imam Khomeini said, “If Muslims were united and each one had poured a bucket of water on Israel, a flood would have taken Israel away. ”
From a speech given at Imam Khomeini’s Shrine, May 21- 2002.
Palestine is the most important Issue in the Islamic World. No other international issue is more important than Palestine in the World of Islam. The reason is that the occupation of Palestine and Quds, which are parts of the body of Islam, is the source of all the weaknesses and problems in the Islamic World. This painful wound on the body of Islamic society is annoying the heart of the Prophet. The heart and soul of the Prophet in paradise is full of sadness. What is the solution, then? Jihad is the answer.
See how the oppressive countries without any sympathy toward the Islamic nations are smashing [the Palestinians] underfoot. Palestine is, and will continue to be, the most important issue of the Islamic nations. This is not a joke; some occupiers have come to remove others from their homes and country and replace them with those whose hands are soaked to their elbows in blood. Palestine is the worst misery the Islamic nation has ever experienced. Those who claim the importance of human rights should be on the vanguard of this struggle and lead others.
Besides Palestine, Beit Ul Moqadas [Jerusalem] is also important. Today, Zionists wage a spectrum of plots and conspiracies aimed at the destruction of this Holy City. But Muslims never allow Zionists to carry out their plots: this city belongs to all Muslims, and is the capital of Palestine. They will resist. Palestine is an issue for the Islamic world for two reasons: One reason is that Palestine is a part of Islamic territory. All Islamic schools of thoughts agree over this. All Muslim scholars have consensus over this claim that Palestine is a part of Islamic land that has been occupied by our enemies. Everybody is religiously obligated to wage jihad to return this part of Islamic land back.
Another reason is that the establishment of this Jewish government, in other words, Zionist government, in this region was to fulfill the first stage of a bigger plan. Palestine links three continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe. The United Kingdom created this mess to prevent the emergence of another Islamic power like Ottoman Empire. Even though the Americans pushed the British away and inherited its colonialism. Therefore, the liberation of Palestine and destruction of the occupier Zionist regime is an issue that has close relationship with the security and existence of Iran and all other countries in the region. Those Muslim intellectuals who have not become puppets in the hands of the oppressive United States believe that we should fight against Israel and resist American’s hegemony.
Adapted from a seminar given to a group of Palestinian Jihad groups (February 27, 201); a a speech before a group of Ardabili Youth (July 26, 2000); and an address to a group of pilgrims in Mashhad (March 21, 2011).
Palestine is not a strategic but a belief issue. It is about a heart connection. It is a religious issue. For these reasons, there is an agreement between Iranian people and us over the issue of Palestine. The majority of our people care about Palestine and this motivates millions of them to come out for demonstration in the Quds Day regardless of the climate condition. The view, perspective, and analysis of our decisionmaking officials toward Palestine is religious not political, per se. We are asked why we support the people of Bahrein. We support all oppressed who rise up against their oppressors. We have been supporting Palestinians for decades. Which Islamic country has done such thing? Are the Palestinians Shia? No. How many times have our youth rushed to airports to fly to Gaza to fight against Israel? They did it many times. But we stopped them. We told them the roads to Gaza are blocked. Our people care about Palestine regardless of sectarian differences. We care about Egypt and Tunisia as well. Are they Shia? No. Enemies try to misinform others that our support of oppressed people is a sectarian issue.
Announcement of the Five Year-Period General Policy by the Supreme Leader (January 10, 2009).
Improving the place, situation, power, and role of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the regional and international level in order to bolster our national security and national interest, and also supporting Muslims and oppressed nations, especially the nation of Palestine, are important parts of our general policies.
A message to the pilgrims on Hajj (June 3, 1989).
We do not follow the dictated solutions offered by the superpowers regarding the Palestine issue. The only accepted treatment for the wound of Palestine is to cut and remove the cancer gland of the Zionist government, and this is possible. In the process of pilgrimage, Muslims should chant concerted slogans in support of Palestinians. Iranian people should always take side with Palestinian fighters. Without winning the battle of Palestine, our victory is incomplete. Since the first days of his mission and struggle in Iran, our deceased great Imam [Khomeini] gave the first priority to the issue of Palestine. He continued the same mission even after he defeated the Shah and established the Islamic Republic. In his political and spiritual will, Imam Khomeini talked about Palestine to Muslims all around the world and highlighted the religious obligation facet of it.
Tehran Friday Prayer at Imam Khomeini’s Shrine (June 3, 2010).
Another facet of the Imam’s movement was its universality. Imam [Khomeini] believed that his mission is universal. It belongs to the Muslims around the globe; even oppressed non-Muslims could use it. Imam did not pay any attention to the critics, who said his statements were, “interfering in other independent countries’ affairs.” Our method of exporting our revolution is different from the colonialists’ method. We do not use colonialism. We are not such people. Our method is to spread the scent of this merciful phenomenon to the world. Therefore, other nations come to recognize their responsibilities. Muslim nations should know their identity, to learn how to find it. One example of this universal view was the Imam’s position regarding Palestine. He directly said, “Israel is a cancer gland.” What do people do with a cancer gland? Aside from cutting and removing it, what other treatments are available? This was his rationale, and he did not care about the criticism. This is not a slogan; it is logic.
Tehran Friday Prayer (February 12, 2004).
This [Iranian] Revolution in the Islamic and Arabic worlds revived hopes. Before we successfully toppled the Shah’s regime, the Islamic world was in a hopeless, passive situation. The Zionists had successfully intimidated the Muslim Nations. No nation could even imagine a feeling of hope. Suddenly, the gates of hope opened and nations woke up. Zionists wrongfully thought that they have swallowed Palestine and everything is in control. You see how the Palestinians are resisting, even under tremendous pressure. This resistance is not only a defeat for Israelites, but also for Americans. All the Zionist superpowers that control the world are defeated, as a poor, unarmed nation has brought them all to their knees.
The spirit of hope also awakened in the Lebanese. In the aftermath of the revolution, Lebanon was a mess. Zionists did whatever they wished to that country. They attacked and killed people. Their warplanes were flying over Lebanon whenever they wanted, as if it was their own territory. Instead of focusing on the [Israeli] enemy, Lebanese groups were fighting against one another. Shaheed Chamran was there at that time. He was reporting whatever he was observing. He reported, “Now, Lebanese are going to become a power. They are striking Zionists unprecedentedly. The Zionists are retreating.”
Speech to the Iranian Military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (June 30, 1991).
Our position against Israel is, as always: Israel is a malignant cancer gland that needs to be uprooted. In contrast to what shallow people believe, it is not impossible to defeat Israel and the United States. Superpowers have come and gone throughout history. Materialistic powers are neither everlasting nor infinite. Yesterday, there was a power called the Soviet Union. It was one of the superpowers, but it no longer exists. A similar historical contemporary change is still before us.