The Theocratic Deception Trap: Khomeini's Persuasion Techniques and Communication Patterns in His Books, Guardianship of the Jurist 1979 and Testament 1989

The Theocratic Deception Trap: Khomeini's Persuasion Techniques and Communication Patterns in His Books, Guardianship of the Jurist 1979 and Testament 1989

Tabassom Fanaian (University of Oslo, Norway)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0516-7.ch003
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This chapter studies theocratic ideology on the ground of political psychology. The mission is shedding the light on the patterns of communication and techniques of persuasion which the Iranian supreme leader, Khomeini, applied in his books to Iranian people in order to establish and preserve a theocratic state. Texts are chosen from the periods before 1979 revolution and the time of his demise in 1989. Research approach is qualitative and content analysis as the main methodology to study his texts. There are three important concepts which shape the core of text analysis: legislation and freedom, social interaction and self conception. The findings show, the same recognizable communication pattern in Khomeini's texts: psychological preparation, macro divination, micro salvation, theo-value credential. Persuasion technique in Khomeini's texts is rooted in defining a religious duty.
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Brothers! You will not read these lines while I am alive, you may read them after I am gone and am no longer among you to manipulate your young hearts for my benefit and your support in order to gain status and power. (Khomeini – Will and Testament – 1989)


Introduction: Velayat-E Faqih In Iran: A Theocratic State

There were twelve legitimate imams (leaders) after the Prophet Mohammad who succeeded Islam’s leadership. The reason for the legitimation of these imams is their divine inspiration and, consequently, their protection against sins—masoum. This is the Shiite’s version of Islam; the first imam was Ali ibne Abi Taleb and the last one Mohammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi. Shiites have believed since 874 C.E. that Mahdi has been in a state of absence (Shevlin, 1998). In the absence of Mahdi, the custody of the Muslim community has been bestowed on an Islamic jurist (faqih), a religious leader who is a master of Islamic laws and principles. This is the doctrine of velayat-e faqih or “guardianship of the jurist.” The jurist has the authority of Mahdi and leads the society until his emergence (Kadivar, 2000).

In a book on velayat-e faqih, Khomeini explains that the only legitimate and qualified individuals—after Prophet Mohammad—for ruling Muslim society are imams because they can clarify Islamic laws. However, in their absence, the jurists (fuqaha) are responsible for this cause (Khomeni, 1979, 1983).

There are different approaches to velayat-e faqih that are different than Khomeini’s model, and this proves that there is no specific theory for the Islamic state (Kadivar, 2000). Different understandings of velayat-e faqih have shaped various political legitimacies for this doctrine (Kadivar, 1999). In Khomeini’s thesis, God is defined as the only source of political authenticity, and, consequently, any law that contradicts the Quran’s law should be ruled out (Khomeini, 1979, 1983). The theme of Khomeini’s book, Velayat-e Faqih, is about the unification of religion and state. Khomeini states that Muslims are supposed to establish an Islamic government like the one that Mohammad and the imams ruled. Accordingly, at the time of their absence, the only qualified political leaders are clergy who know the legislative and executive characteristics of Islamic laws as Mohammad and his successors (Shevlin, 1998). These leaders are directly appointed by God, and having the popular consent of the majority of Muslims would not affect their legitimacy. Being God’s representatives on earth, the people’s ideas, votes, and consent are not important. Jurists (Fuqah) should be accepted and obeyed by Muslims without a shadow of a doubt (Khomeini, 1979, 1983). It is the doctrine of velayat-e faqih that Khomeini established and applied in Iran from 1979. With the power of religious knowledge about Islamic laws, Khomeini found the position of leader (vali-e faqih) and fitted himself as Mohammad’s successor and, specifically, Mahdi, the promised one (Shevlin, 1998).

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