Historic Speech of Imam Khomeini [ra] in 1963

Historic Speech of Imam Khomeini [ra] in 1963

Given below is the text of the historic speech of Imam Khomeini [ra] on the eve of Ashura, which led to his arrest and the 15th Khordad [June 5th] movement. 15 years later, this led to the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and estblaishment of Islamic Republic.

Brief Background

Date The afternoon of June 3, 1963 (AD) / Khurdad 13, 1342 (AHS) / Muharram 10, 1383 (AH)

Place: Fayziya Madrasa, Qom, Iran

Theme: The Shah and Israel; the root of people’s suffering in Iran

Occasion: The Ashura

Those present: A large gathering of religious students, clergy, people of Qom and pilgrims of the Holy Shrine


It is now the afternoon of Ashura …Sometimes when I reflect upon the events of Ashura, a question occurs to me: If the Bani Umayyad and the regime of Yazid ibn Mu’awiya were at war with Husayn, then why did they commit such savage and inhuman crimes against defenceless women and innocent children on the day of’ Ashura? What were the women and infants guilty of? It seems to me that their concern was far more basic, they did not wish the Bani Hashim to exist; the Bani Umayyad were hostile toward the Bani Hashim as a whole and their goal was to root out this goodly tree.[1]


The same idea prevailed in Iran. What business did they have with our sixteen-and seventeen-year-old youngsters? What had the Sayyid aged no more than sixteen or seventeen years done against the Shah? [2] What had he done to upset the government? What had he done to upset the tyrannical regime? One is led to conclude that it is towards underlying principles that they are hostile rather than children. They do not wish these principles to exist, nor do they wish any of us to exist; the young and the old alike.


Israel does not wish there to be any learned men in this country. Israel does not wish the Qur’an to exist in this country. Israel does not wish the ‘ulama to exist in this country. Israel does not wish to see Islamic precepts in this country. It was Israel that assaulted the madrasa [3] by means of its sinister agents. It is assaulting us too and you, the nation; it wishes to seize your economy, to destroy your trade and agriculture and to appropriate your wealth leaving this country without. Anything which proves to be a barrier, or blocks its path is to be removed by means of its agents. The Qur’an is blocking its path; it must be removed. The religious establishment is blocking its path, it too must be removed; Fayziya is blocking its path, it must be destroyed. The religious students might later prove to be barriers; they must be flung from the roof and their arms and necks broken. We are affronted by our very own government, which assists Israel in achieving its objectives by obeying her command.


You respected people of Qom! On the day that mendacious, that scandalous referendum took place -that referendum which only a few thousand were in favour of and which was carried out contrary to the interests of the Iranian nation -you witnessed how certain persons were let loose onto the streets of Qom, and in this centre of religious learning which stands beside the shrine of Fatima Ma’suma (sa); and how a gang of hooligans and ruffians were picked up and driven around the streets in cars, yelling “Your sponging days are over! Your days of good living are at an end!” [4]


Gentlemen, look around you; take note of the condition in which Fayziya Madrasa finds itself; take a look at the residential chambers. Those who spend the best and most active part of their lives in these small chambers, their monthly allowance not exceeding between 40 -100 tumans -are they parasites? How about those who have one account containing a thousand million tumans, whilst thousands of millions more are elsewhere in other accounts -are they not parasites?! Is it we (the ‘ulama) who are parasites -people like the late Hajj Shaykh ‘Abdul Karim whose sons possessed nothing, not even food to eat on the night of his death (the audience weeps intensely), or the late Burujirdi who was six hundred thousand tumans in debt at the time of his demise [5] -was he a parasite?! Yet those who have filled banks all around the world, who have erected great towering palaces, who refuse to leave this nation alone and who continue in their endeavours to fill their own pockets and those of Israel with profits taken from the remainder of the nation’s resources -they are not parasites?! It is for the world and the nation to judge who is parasitic.


Let me give you some advice Sir, Mr. Shah! Your Highness! My advice to you is to abstain from such acts; you are being deluded. I wouldn’t like to see everyone rejoice if your departure was arranged. I will tell you a story that will be familiar to those aged thirty or forty years or more. Three foreign countries once attacked and then occupied Iran: the Soviet Union, Britain and America. The property of the people was exposed to danger and their honour was imperilled; but God knows how elated the people were when they saw that Pahlavi [6] had gone. I don’t want you to end up this way. Stop acting thus. It is not my wish that the same happens to you. Don’t annoy the people so. Don’t oppose the clergy so. If what they say is true and you indeed oppose them, then it is wrong of you to think this way. If they hand you formerly-prepared material and then tell you to read it, give it some thought first. Why do you speak without first thinking? The ‘ulama and the religious scholars of Islam, are they really defiled animals?! Does the nation see them in this light?![7] If they truly are defiled animals then why do people kiss their hands? Is it the hand of a defiled animal they kiss? And why do they regard the very water they drink as blessed? Is this the treatment afforded a defiled animal?! (the audience weeps intensely) Sir, are we really defiled animals? I hope to God that this is not what you mean. God forbid that you were referring to the ‘ulama when you said “The black reaction [8] is like a defiled animal which is to be avoided by the people”, because if this is so then our task is made more difficult and so is yours. You won’t be able to live. The nation won’t allow you to live. Don’t continue in this way; heed my advice.


You are now forty-three years old; enough is enough. Don’t listen to what others tell you. Think a little; ponder about where all this is leading you to. Learn at least something from your father’s fate. Don’t continue in this way. Listen to what I have to say; listen to what the ‘ulama have to say; listen to what the religious scholars have to say -it is they who seek the welfare of the country and the nation.


Are we reactionaries? Is the doctrine of Islam reactionary; and a “black reaction” at that? Is it you then who turned the “black” revolution into a “white” one?! Did you create a White Revolution? Which White Revolution did you make Sir? Why do you try to deceive the people so? I swear by God, Israel is of no use to you, it is the Qur’an which can be of help to you.


I was informed today that a number of preachers were taken to the offices of SAVAK and were told that they could speak about anything they chose other than three subjects: they were not to say anything bad about the Shah; not to attack Israel; and not to say that Islam is endangered [9]. The problem is that if we don’t concern ourselves with these three subjects then what else is there to talk about? All of our difficulties without exception stem from these three issues. Sir, they themselves say this; it is not I who says it. Whoever you ask tells you that it was the Shah who ordered for such action to be taken; the Shah ordered for Fayziya Madrasa to be destroyed; the Shah ordered for those people to be killed. ..That man [10] -I’ll mention his name at the appropriate time when he has been duly punished (an outburst of emotion from the audience) -who came to Fayziya Madrasa, whistled to signal for the commandos to gather and shouted: “What are you waiting for? Plunder the entire residential chambers and destroy whatever is there.” He gave the order to attack and they attacked; but when he is asked “Why did you do such a thing?”, he replies, “I was acting on His Majesty’s orders.”


Are these (religious students) His Majesty’s enemies? Is Israel His Majesty’s friend? Israel will cause the country’s collapse. Via its agents, Israel will cause the dissolution of the monarchy; but beware, for one thing is certain -if, gentlemen, you take a look at the Baha’ i almanac of two or three years ago, you will read: “Abdul Baha [11] advocates equal rights for men and women”; and this is the line that has been adopted by them. Then the ignorant Mr. Shah also steps forward and talks of equal rights for men and women! You poor wretch, they have purposely set you up so that they can say that you are a Baha’i, and so that I in turn denounce you as an unbeliever and you are finally got rid of. Don’t continue in this way, you fool; don’t do it.


Conscription for women is what ‘Abdul Baha advocates. The almanac in question is available, so why not read it. Has the Shah not seen this?! If not then those who have seen it and have set this poor wretch up to say these things are to be rebuked. I swear by God that I have heard that the security police have plans to ensure that the people see the Shah in a bad light, so that he can be expelled; and it may be for this reason that some of these matters are in fact kept from him. There are many such matters, more than you can possibly imagine. Both our country and our religion are in jeopardy. You repeatedly tell the ‘ulama not to mention that our religion is endangered; but if we don’t say this does that mean that our religion is in fact not in danger? If we do not mention what the Shah is like, does that mean he is really not like that? Indeed, you must do something to change this situation. You are being blamed for everything. You helpless creature, you don’t realise that on the day when a true outburst occurs, not one of these so-called friends of yours will want to know you. They are all friends of the dollars. They hold no belief or moral principles and they have no sense of loyalty.


We feel particularly emotional at present, not because of the fact that today is Ashura (although to a certain extent that is the case) but because of what is in store for this nation; because of that which is about to take place. That is the real cause of our extreme sorrow; we are truly apprehensive. What exactly is the relationship between the Shah and Israel anyway, which causes the secret service to tell us neither to speak of Israel nor of the Shah -what is the connection between the two? Can it be that the Shah is an Israeli? Does the secret service believe him to be Jewish? Surely this cannot be so; he professes to be a Muslim. He who claims to be a Muslim, according to the laws of Islam, is thereby a Muslim. The connection between ourselves and Israel….perhaps this concerns some kind of confidential matter. Maybe there is truth in what they say about certain organisations wanting to destroy the Shah. Don’t you consider it a probability? If so then resolve the matter in some way. Somehow inform this man of these issues; it may cause him to wake up and become somewhat aware of the situation. However, they have ensured that he is under constant surveillance and they might therefore prevent such words of advice from reaching him.


We are full of regret and sorrow. We truly regret the state in which Iran finds itself. We regret the state of our ruined country, of this Cabinet and of those running our government. Kindly ask Mr. Shirazi [12] to come and recite a prayer. I feel truly tired.




[1] “Shajara-yi tayaba” is taken from verse 24 of Sura lbrahim (Abraham): “Have you not considered how Allah sets forth a parable of a good word (being) like a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are in heaven. ” In an exposition of this verse it is quoted from Imam Sadiq (pbuh) that: “This is an example given by God for the ahl al-bait of his Prophet”, meaning the family of the Prophet and their followers are the embodiment of “shajara-yi tayaba”. Refer to the translation of the exegisis Al Mizan, Vol. 23, p. 96.


[2] The late Sayyid Yunus Rudbari, one of the martyrs of the Fayziya tragedy.

[3] Fayziya Madrasa in Qom and Talibiya Madrasa in Tabriz which were simultaneously subjected to the savage attacks of the Shah’s agents.


[4] The Shah was not warmly received by the people when he arrived in Qom on January 24, 1963 (Bahman 4, 1341 AHS*). In the insulting speech made by him on that same day he said: “…The clergy think that life means acquiring something or obtaining some money unjustly by being inactive and slothful etc.; and that it means eating food and ….but the time of parasitism is over.” Following his speech, agents in disguise who had entered the city claiming to be monarchists of Qom, start demonstrating and chanting the slogans “Parasitism is over….the good life is at an end” .Refer to the Kayhan and Ittila’at newspapers of January 24 and 25, 1963 (Bahman 4 & 5, 1341 AHS); Nihzat-i Ruhaniyun-i Iran, Vol. 3, pp. 220-221; Inqilab-islami va Risheha-yi an, pp. 451-452. (* Solar Hijri Iranian Year)


[5] This amount of debt concerns a sum which Ayatullah Burujirdi had borrowed in order to pay the monthly allowance of a number of the theological students who at that time were in receipt of 40 -60 tumans per month (according to their level of education).


[6] Riza Khan.


[7] On May 27, 1963 (Khurdad 6, 1342 AHS) the Shah, in a speech delivered in Kerman, most unashamedly stated: ” …but you must beware if certain persons approach you using such language with the intention of poisoning your minds in this way. Keep away from them and indeed do not allow them to get close to you just as you would not a defiled animal. ..”. The press, May 27 & 28, 1963 (Khurdad 6 & 7, 1342 AHS).


[8] The Shah refers to those clerics who struggled in opposition to the regime as the “black reaction”. In the interviews, speeches and messages given by him from the year 1962 (1341 AHS) onwards, he names the “black reaction” and the “red reaction” as opposers of the “White Revolution”. At the Farmer’s Congress held in January 1962, he said: “There is no doubt that the “black reaction” and the subversive “red” forces will not desist in their attempt to check Iran’s reforms. Indeed, they will make every effort to avert them. ..” ! Once again in a speech delivered in Qom a short while later, he insulted the, ulama and most distinctly called the clergy “black reactionaries”. Again, in the book Inqilab-i Sefid (The White Revolution), with regard to the great uprising of Khurdad l5 we read: “The shambles of Khurdad 15, 1342 (June 5, 1963) was the best illustration of the unholy union between the “black reaction” and the “red” subversive forces, which took place financed by a group of land owners whose interests were detrimentally affected by the laws of the land reforms”! Refer to Dayiratul Mu’arifi Tashi’, pp. 566 & 567; Musahibeha, Nutqha va Payamha-yi Muhammad Riza Shah, pp. 3087, 3089 and 3284; and Farhang-i Siyasi, p.5.


[9] After the Fayziya tragedy (March 22, 1963 (Farvardin 2, 1342 AHS) the Shah’s security service, sensing danger, summoned certain famous religious speakers to SAVAK and asked them to remain silent on three different issues (as indicated in the above text), whilst delivering their speeches. Once Imam was informed of SAVAK’s ultimatum he issued a declaration addressing the preachers, clergy and religious orators, in which he described the ultimatum as illegal and those who had requested the pledges as criminals who deserved prosecution.


[10] Colonel Moulavi (deputy-director of SAVAK).


[11] Abbas Effendi, the celebrated “Abdul Baha” (1844-1921), son of Mirza Husayn ‘ Ali (Baha’ullah) became the leader of the Baha’is after his father. He was amongst the British government’s active spies who actually worked for the British in Palestine. The services rendered by Abbas Effendi to the British government made him worthy of a knighthood and the title of “Sir”. ‘Abdul Baha published Ta’alim-i Baha’iyyat (The Teachings of Baha ‘ism) in which he addressed the issue of full and equal rights of the sexes.


[12] Sayyid Ghulam Hasan Shirazi.

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