Foreword – Stages of Islamic Revolution (1996)

Dr Kalim Siddiqui’s Foreword to his final book, Stages of Islamic Revolution, reflecting on his intentions for it and the circumstances in which it was written. This book was published just in time for his final conference, in South Africa in April 1996. He died while still in Pretoria, a few days after the end of this conference. The introduction to this book is also published as a separate post here, and a PDF of the full book is also available to download here.


The foreword is invariably written last. I am writing it having just read the final page proofs. It is a sobering experience. On every page there are ideas I might have expressed differently or at greater length. But there comes a time when the author is the prisoner of his work. The option of scrapping the whole thing and starting again is always there; but the right thing to do is to let this one go and start on another book.

The first thing I want to say about this book is that it is not about the Islamic Revolution in Iran. It is about the next Islamic Revolution and the one after that. I had been meaning to write this book for some years. It was intended as a follow-up to my 1988-89 paper Processes of error, deviation, correction and convergence in Muslim political thought. That paper was originally written to explore whether such an approach would be acceptable at this stage. I intended to send it to Imam Khomeini, but he died before the Persian translation was ready. Instead, I sent it to his successor, Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Khamenei. He welcomed it and endorsed my approach and arguments. After reading the final manuscript of this book, I decided to add that paper to it as an appendix.

When I began writing this book, in October 1994, I did not think I would live to finish it. It was more than twenty years since my first heart attack, and twelve years since my first bypass. An angiogram in 1992 had revealed that all but one of the arteries were blocked. By the time I began working on this book, the angina had been unstable and often crippling for about two years. In January 1995 I spent a week in hospital recovering from another bout of angina, but managed to finish the first draft in April and sent it to my usual readers, including Dr Yaqub Zaki and my daughter Shama. In May, after another angiogram, the cardiologist suggested by-pass surgery, even though the risks were very high, and referred me to the surgeons. On June 5, I drove to Harefield Hospital with my wife, Suraiya, to find out whether the surgeons would take the risk. On arrival, I collapsed and suffered a massive heart attack. Two days later the surgeons carried out emergency surgery. My heart was still infarcting as they worked on it. In the next two days I suffered six cardiac arrests, and another three weeks later.

I was in the ITU for a total of five weeks, then in isolation for another three weeks. In the following four weeks I revised this ‘manuscript’ on the computer twice. I resisted the temptation to rewrite parts of it or to extend the length. It was written under pressure of what I thought was a certain sentence of death. Hence it has the flavour of a last testament. No words of mine can express the gratitude my wife, our children, the extended family and I feel for the many nurses, surgeons and doctors at Harefield Hospital who worked so hard to save my life. When I saw the cardiologist afterwards I thanked him. ‘Don’t thank us,’ he said, raising his finger skywards, ‘someone up there is looking after you’. Indeed He is, perhaps in response to all those prayers said for me all over the world.

Now I have to think of something else for my next ‘last’ book. I am reminded of a saying of the Prophet, upon whom be peace, that if you are planting a tree and you see the end of the world coming, don’t stop planting the tree. Doctors say the average life of a bypass is ten years. But the number of years remaining is not important. What is important is that all of us should keep on doing what we are doing now. I have not given up the hope of seeing some more Islamic Revolutions and their outcome, new Islamic States on the map, insha’Allah.

Kalim Siddiqui
The Muslim Institute for Research and Planning
Ramadan 1416/February 1996.