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Islamic Republic and its political discourses in light of Leader’s words

By Xavier Villar

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei in his speech on the occasion of the 34th anniversary of the passing of Imam Khomeini said arrogant powers "will not cease their hostility towards the Iranian nation even if the country changes its policies," emphasizing their desire for a submissive Iran.

These words will serve us to analyze what we can call the political theology of the Islamic Republic.

It is important to highlight that, in conventional analysis, the genealogies of political theology as an academic field trace back to certain European thinkers of the 20th century.

Among them are German jurist Carl Schmitt (1888-1985), who was a sympathizer of the Nazi regime, and German-Jewish historian Ernst Kantorowicz (1895-1963).

Behind them, and influencing them, are other giants, from the Roman theologian Eusebius of Caesarea (4th century AD) to the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679).

This genealogy generally overlooks thinkers outside the Eurocentric Christian world.

Hence, it is important to open the canon to political forms that do not have Eurocentric origins. In the case of the Islamic world, it is crucial to understand anticolonial thought from a completely alternative perspective that is not linked to Western epistemic foundations or secular grammar.

In this sense, Islam plays a fundamental role.

In the Islamic world, we have the example of Algeria as a quintessential anticolonial struggle, often represented by the figure of psychiatrist Frantz Fanon. Fanon was one of the most significant political figures of the 20th century.

However, from a non-secular perspective, it can be argued that Fanon never fully departed from the Western paradigm. This paradigm is evident in how the author himself analyzes the Algerian revolution and erases any presence of Islam in the anti-colonial struggle.

According to Fanon, the Algerian Revolution is framed within a "classical-normative" revolution, that is, a secular and anticolonial revolution.

For him, there is no other epistemology that can explain the Algerian Revolution outside of Marxism, despite appearances suggesting the existence of a non-Marxist and non-secular anticolonial genealogy in the "way of life of the Algerian peasantry."

Fanon appears to ignore the influence of Islam in political terms, considering that beyond secularism, there is nothing else.

Fanon's analysis overlooks the anticolonial movement led by Abd al-Qadir, thus obscuring its significance. This movement, detached from Western normative grammar, sought national liberation by employing Islam as a political discourse.

To understand the political language of Islam, it is essential to pay attention to the following categories. Firstly, "deen," which is understood as a "spiritual transaction."

Islam is not merely considered a religion, as the notion of religion is a Eurocentric and secular concept that limits its scope to the domestic sphere and separates it from politics, as noted by Talal Asad.

It is through this existential connection that the ontological facilitation of a horizontal and non-hierarchical alternative is constructed.

In other words, if God occupies the pinnacle of the ontological hierarchy, there is no room for racial hierarchies among human beings. Advocating for a supremacist and racial vision obscures the true message of Islam.

This "obscuring" is related to the dynamic between haqq (truth) and batil (falsehood).

For example, Imam Khomeini's Islamic vision, carried forward by Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, confronted and dismantled an illegitimate system (batil) built upon Western ontological supremacism.

Another important category is tawhid, which is understood as "unity."

Although the word tawhid is not explicitly mentioned in the Quran, we find the following definition within it: "Say: He is Allah, the One and Only. Allah, the Eternal, Absolute. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him" (Quran, Surah Al-Ikhlas, 1-4).

In the concept of tawhid, we can identify two levels of analysis. Firstly, there is the existential level, where the dualistic conception of human beings is rejected.

On the other hand, there is a socio-political level. At this level, tawhid is understood as opposition to a society that establishes the concept of race as an alternative object of veneration, in contrast to the divine.

The concept of tawhid, along with deen, is valid for critiquing any form of supremacism, particularly concerning ontological differences.

Deen, which can be understood as an existential indebtedness, prevents ontological self-sufficiency. Similarly, the fact that divinity is not part of creation allows for a critique of the idea of modernity that has replaced the divine with the white man.

It is also important to pay attention to the category of taghut. This term stems from the Arabic verb tagha, which means to dominate or exceed limits. The Quran repeatedly warns against those who "exceed the limits of justice through the domination and oppression of others."

We can understand the category of taghut as that which creates false gods. This category is responsible for creating the false idol of white supremacism, which entails a shift from a theocentric cosmology to an anthropocentric cosmology where the white man replaces God.

Indeed, it is precisely these categories that allow us to comprehend the political and anticolonial possibilities of Islam and indicate a genealogy that is radically different from the Western perspective.

From this perspective, we should continue to analyze the Islamic Republic and its political discourses, such as the aforementioned statement by Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

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