Speech prepared for presentation at a conference on Al-Quds in Tehran in December 1990. The speech was not actually given as Dr Kalim Siddiqui was taken ill on the flight to Iran, and hospitalised with cardiac issues when he got there, and so missed the conference. A version of this speech was published in Crescent International in 1991.
The road back to Palestine
By Kalim Siddiqui
Palestine, as I understand it, is only an extreme case of a global phenomenon. This phenomenon is the penetration of the west into the House of Islam. Only in Palestine has this penetration taken the form of the replacement of a Muslim population under the flag of zionism. The history of zionist claims on Palestine is well known and does not require repetition or refutation but what is not generally known, or not often remembered and understood by the Muslims, is that the defeat and dismemberment of the Ottoman State and the creation of the modern Arab nation States under client rulers such as the Aal-e Saud were all steps leading up to the creation of the State of Israel.
This is a unique and historic occasion. By convening this conference, the Islamic Republic of Iran has fulfilled its role as the only Islamic State on the map of the world today. At present the Arab States are being herded into a so-called ‘peace conference’ on Palestine. They will sooner or later sign the formal surrender of Palestine to its zionist occupiers, but in fact to the United States of America.
Immediately after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Khomeini ordered that the last Friday in Ramadan be observed as Al-Quds Day. It was also a decade ago that the first Al-Quds conference was held in Tehran. In Iran at least there has been no confusion on the central issues of the conflict over Palestine. The same, however, cannot be said about the situation outside Iran.
The tragedy of the colonial period is not only that Muslim lands and peoples were colonised and that control over the physical assets of the Muslim Ummah passed to western powers; the greater tragedy is the fact that Muslims have also lost their once famous sense of history, sense of direction and clarity of thought and purpose. This is demonstrated by the difficulty even the people of Palestine have in defining their situation. Some regard it as a ‘Palestinian Problem’, others call it an ‘Arab problem’, and only a handful think of Palestine as the land of Islam and all Muslims. Even in Iran, where this confusion does not exist, there is little understanding of the historical process that will eventually reclaim Palestine.
Ben Gurion once referred to the Arab States as “Israel’s first line of defence”. The implication is clear: the Arab States are not the enemies of Israel; the true enemy of Israel lies beyond the Arab States. Only this interpretation makes sense of the remark that the Arab States are Israel’s first line of defence. Who, then, is the enemy?
Ben Gurion knew, and the western sponsors of Israel knew, that zionism is merely a flag of convenience for western occupation of Palestine. The west regards the occupation of Palestine as essential for the long-term goal of stopping and aborting any challenge to their world supremacy originating in Islam. Thus the Arab States are an effective barrier against Islam in this area and against Islam beyond the Arab world as well. It is Islam that the west regards as its enemy, not the Palestinians or Arabs or Ba’athists or any other permutation of Arab or Muslim nationalism.
Indeed, some of the nationalist movements are also part of the first line of defence for Israel and the west’s penetration of the house of Islam. This is certainly the case with the PLO. Israel, by refusing to deal with the PLO, makes everyone, including the Palestinians, believe that Palestinian nationalism is a real threat to the Israeli State; while the western powers, including the US and the Soviet Union, by insisting that Israel must deal with the PLO, achieve the goal of keeping Muslims’ and world attention diverted from their enmity of Islam.
This western guile also helps to marginalise the ‘Palestine problem’ as a peripheral issue on the Mediterranean coast of the vast Arab world. In this way the fact that Israel is a dagger in the heartland of Islam is conveniently bypassed and hidden from public view. Non-Arab Muslim opinion has been conditioned to regard Palestine as an Arab problem, and the Arab States, also insisting that PLO is the only representative of the Palestinian people, have succeeded in reducing it to a dispute over the sharing of land between the Jews and Palestinians.
It is important, therefore, that the cloud of confusion is lifted, and the problem is defined in its proper historical context. This is the west’s hatred and enmity of Islam and the defeat and dismemberment of the House of Islam at the hands of the west. The creation of Israel was only the final and most arrogant act in political penetration and domination of the House of Islam by the west. It follows, therefore, that Palestine can only be reclaimed by reversing the process by which it was lost. This means that all parts of the House of Islam must be reclaimed from western control and domination; the final act of this process of reclamation will be the dismantling of the Israeli State.
I have deliberately spoken of ‘reclamation’ rather than ‘liberation’. This is because ‘liberation’ implies a simple act of pushing out the colonialists, while the task in hand is much more extensive. When, for instance, land is reclaimed from the sea it must be desalinated and a fresh topsoil laid over it before it can be put to productive use. ‘Liberation’ or simple ‘independence’ leaves the land unfit for its original culture and civilisation. In all the post-colonial States the colonial culture and western hegemony have continued to flourish after ‘liberation’ or ‘independence’.
Only in Iran has the Islamic Revolution gone on to complete the task of reclamation. This was possible because the political thought of the Islamic Revolution and its leadership owed nothing to the colonial period. Both the political thought and leadership of the ulama emerged from deep down in the history and culture of Islamic Iran. Thus the Islamic Revolution was not an agreed or negotiated ‘independence’ but a forceful, powerful and uncompromising reassertion of the political culture and civilisation of Islam. Iran, therefore, is the only part of the House of Islam that has been reclaimed from the domination of western culture and civilisation.
Once the need for the reclamation of all parts of the House of Islam is understood, we also know that the only way to achieve this goal is through a succession of Islamic Revolutions. For Islamic Revolutions to occur in other parts of the world we have to come to terms with a new set of realities. These are summarised below:
1. The ‘Islamic’ parties that emerged during the colonial period suffer from the same disabilities as the nationalist parties that achieved negotiated liberation or independence. Such ‘Islamic’ parties are now in the service of Aal-e Saud, and indirectly of the United States. They are therefore irrelevant and can form no part of the new revolutionary Islamic movement.
2. The new Islamic movement must flow directly from the conceptualisation of the experience in Iran. A new political thought derived from the Islamic Revolution in Iran alone can provide a solid foundation for the new global Islamic movement.
3. The Islamic State of Iran is the most successful manifestation of the political power of Islam achieved by Muslims anywhere in more than 1,000 years. This does not mean that the Islamic State of Iran has no faults or that the shape and form the Islamic State has taken in Iran is perfect. All this means is that the shape, form and structure the Islamic State has achieved in Iran is of sufficient power and stability that it has earned the right to our support over a prolonged period of improvement and growth.
4. The power and stability achieved by the Islamic State in Iran is also of a sufficient quality to act as the central political reality in the Ummah. As such, the new Islamic State in Iran has taken the duty to act as leader of the new global Islamic movement for the reclamation of all parts of the House of Islam from the clutches of the house of kufr.
5. Those Muslims in the world who recognise that an Islamic State of sufficient power and stability has come into being have a duty to give their total allegiance to that Islamic State and its leadership.
6. It follows from this that the Vali-e-Faqih in Tehran is also the leader of the global Islamic movement.
The six points outlined above are the foundations on which any plan to reclaim any part of the Ummah must be based, including the reclamation of Palestine. We must also remember that in some ways such nation-States as Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia are at present just as ‘lost’ to Islam as Palestine. Palestine cannot be reclaimed on its own; Palestine can only be reclaimed as part of the process of the total reclamation of the entire region.
Indeed, it may well be that Palestine can only be reclaimed after the heartland of Islam surrounding Palestine has first been reclaimed and reconsolidated into Islam. Thus victory in Palestine will mark the end of this struggle, not its beginning. The victory of Islam in Iran has been the first step on a long journey; the victory in Palestine will mark the final triumph of Islam over the west. To reach Palestine we must first reclaim the land surrounding Palestine. The Arab States, Israel’s first line of defence, must be claimed before physical access to Palestine can be obtained.
This is the logic of history. There is no other road back to Palestine.