The Shah and the Ayatollah: Iranian Mythology and Islamic Revolution

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You can go to cart and save for later there. Average rating: 0 out of 5 stars, based on 0 reviews Write a review. Tell us if something is incorrect. Only 5 left! Add to Cart. Free delivery. They had valiantly resisted the continuous persecutions of their Sunnite enemies and kept intact their faith and the secret knowledge bestowed on them by their fathers. But his master, Sheikh Abdulkarim Haeri, opposed the use of violence and favored restraint and prudence. Khomeini learned to restrain his impulses and to bide his time. This experience would serve him later to withstand crises and misfortunes without giving up his determination and pugnacity.

The Shah and the Ayatollah 9 While Reza Shah was accelerating the pace of his reforms, Khomeini had to return to Arak for the interment of the father of one of his closest friends. But days passed and absence from Qum could delay his ascension of the clerical ladder. Superstitious as all Iranians, he consulted a dervish known for his knowledge of the occult and his divinatory powers.

The old man assured him that no immediate danger menaced him and that he would die at a very old age in Qum. The title of crown prince swelled his ego. A bevy of servants were at his beck and call. People truckled before him. At age eleven, he was made honorary colonel of a cavalry regiment! Nevertheless, his happiness was far from complete. Reza Khan did not change his lifestyle and wonts.

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He remained the frugal soldier he had always been. He wanted to make out of his son a strong leader like himself, but Muhammad 10 Chapter One Reza was rather weak if not cowardly. He disliked the military school to which he was sent. Moreover, in his eagerness to keep him on the right track, his father never missed an occasion to comment, often brutally, on his conduct. These continuous cutting remarks profoundly wounded the young boy. But he could not control them in adulthood like his nemesis. In , Reza Shah sent the crown prince to a select Swiss secondary school for super rich and aristocrat kids.

This experience marked the future monarch. In a long interview published as a book, he pretended that Western democracies impressed him. I grasped the spirit of democracy, discipline, freedom and realized that discipline without democracy is authoritarianism and that democracy without discipline is anarchy.

Though approving the reforms started by his father, he had a much larger vision of modernization. But four years in Switzerland could not transform his character. Indeed, despite accusations by Khomeini and his followers, Muhammad Reza was a religious man to the point of superstition. He did not practice the rituals, but venerated the Imams who, he claimed, visited him in his dreams. He was convinced that they had saved him in his childhood and twice from attempts on his life.

He then accompanied his father on his inspection tours. Does he think that if he were gone, I should not be able to take over and continue his work? His had died at his birth, and his religious mentor, Sheikh Abdulkarim Haeri, was a soft-spoken moderate man. Khomeini took advantage of this new situation in order to accomplish the pilgrimage to the tomb of Imam Reza, one of the 12 Shiite saints buried in Mashad.

On his way back, he stopped in Tehran where he married a seyedeh feminine of seyed in the Arabic language from a wealthy family. Upon his return to Qum, his old master, whose health was declining, entrusted him with the teaching at his seminar.

Consolidation of the Iranian Revolution

The sudden promotion of Khomeini triggered criticism on the part of some of the other high-ranking clerics. Usually, theology teachers were chosen among middle-aged proven mullahs. Nevertheless, he was allowed to bear the title of hojat-ol-Islam middle-rank cleric, before becoming ayatollah.

Some of the law enforcers, fearing the ire of the interred Imam, even joined the mullahs. Infuriated by this bout of disobedience, Reza Shah ordered the army to arrest the insurgents. The walls around the sanctuary were demolished by cannon balls and the mullahs surrendered. The majority of city dwellers defended the mullahs in private but did not dare express any open criticism of the Shah. The masses, especially in the countryside, were not ready to follow the clergy: they hoped that modernization would improve their The Shah and the Ayatollah 13 lot.

Back in Qum, Khomeini prospered. At the same time, the future ayatollah entered the realm of business by founding with his brother a bus line between Arak and Qum. He did not show any sign of emotion even in the most strained situation. Was this coldness in his nature or only the effect of shrewd acting? On his way back, he stopped in Najaf, the Shiite holy city in Iraq where he met Navab Safavi, a charismatic young fanatic who advocated the murder of the so-called enemies of Islam. In those days, German Nazis were active in the region and were helping an anticolonialist Iraqi movement led by Rashid Ali Queylani.

Navab Safavi took this condemnation by a high-ranking cleric such as Khomeini as tantamount to an authorization to kill the writer. He therefore ordered his underlings in the terrorist group he had set up under the name of Fedayin-e-Islam martyrs of Islam to proceed. Kasravi was stabbed to death in In the s and s the Fedayin killed two prime ministers: Razmara and Mansour.

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The abdication of his father and his forced exile to South Africa by the British provoked contradictory feelings in the mind of Muhammad Reza, who had just been sworn in as the new Shah of Iran on September 16, He had been longing for that moment to prove his capability conducting the affairs of the state. But now that he had ascended the throne and was liberated from the tutelage and the constant remarks of Reza Shah, he did not feel completely happy.

He could not forget the humiliating circumstances of his ascension to kingship. The Shah and the Ayatollah 15 On the other hand, the young monarch was in a way liberated. The eagle eye of his father was not fixed on him anymore. He could hobnob with whomever he desired.

Table of contents

Khomeini had been an opposition leader to Shah for many years, rising to prominence after the death of his mentor, renowned scholar Yazdi Ha'iri , in the s. This article investigates how the literary reception of Ernest Hemingway in Iran in the first two decades after the Islamic Revolution is formed by cultural and ideological implications. Bakhash, p. Men and women are not allowed to dance or swim with each other. In other words, they do not spurn any of the satanic inventions of the much-hated West. Bakhtiar invited Khomeini back to Iran, with the intention of creating a Vatican -like state in the holy city of Qom , declaring that "We will soon have the honor of welcoming home the Ayatollah Khomeini".

At the same time, he could not forget that the Allies had humiliated his father and many Iranians had joined in slighting him. In , the events of were forgotten and his White Revolution was beginning to bear fruit: he was not crowned as the son of Reza Shah but for his own achievements. It is also probably for the same reason that, in , he organized the Persepolis celebration of the th year of Iranian monarchy.

He still could not get rid of the guilt he felt toward his defunct father, so, in , he ordered the organization of numerous ceremonies in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Pahlavi dynasty by Reza Shah. He was not aware that all these excesses, triggered by his personal problems, would in the end ruin his own kingship! Indeed, Khomeini did not fail to criticize the foolish expenses of these continuous celebrations and attacked Muhammad Reza Shah as a squanderer of national riches. In the wake of the Persepolis extravaganza, he called on mullahs and all Iranian people to revolt against the Shah whom he accused of betraying Islam.

But let us not anticipate. The Allies indirectly interfered in Iranian internal affairs not only for achieving their war goals, but also their own national interests. In the North, the Russians favored leftist movements while in the South the British manipulated the clergy because it was a good shield against Soviet expansionism.

With the fall of Reza Shah, the communists had emerged from clandestinity and created the powerful and well-organized Tudeh party, to the dismay of the traditionalists and wealthy people.

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Twenty-two years after Ayatollah Khomeini's ascent to power in Iran many aspects of his Islamic revolution remain obscure if not baffling. For instance, in. updated edition of Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution. Mateo Mohammad The Shah and the Ayatollah: Iranian Mythology and Islamic Revolu-.

The Shah, although he inherited the antimullah feelings of his father, accepted the contention that religion could counterbalance leftists and he started a policy of rapprochement with high-ranking religious leaders. The only high authority remaining in Iran at that time was Ayatollah Boroujerdi. While Ayatollah Boroujerdi was in Tehran for a short stay, the Shah himself visited him in his residence.

This gesture marked the reconciliation of the crown with the religious leadership. Stalin alone paid a courtesy visit to the Shah, head of the host country. The Shah had to go to the Soviet Embassy where the conference was held in order to meet with the two other leaders. Touchy, like all Iranians, Muhammad Reza resented the attitude of the Western leaders. He attributed it to a deliberate act on the part of the Americans and British to belittle him. In fact, Roosevelt was a crippled man and besides, the security forces had discovered a plot against The Shah and the Ayatollah 17 him and Churchill.

As days passed he somehow became an indispensable aide to the prelate. The murderer was condemned to death. Khomeini, who had indirectly called for this crime in his Kahf-olAsrar, convinced his master to send him with a delegation of clerics to the Shah in order to obtain clemency for the assassin. Khomeini construed this inattention as a sign of personal disdain and conceived anger against the monarch. In the late s, Ayatollah Kashani, who had been sent into exile by the Allies because of his Nazi connections, came back to Qum.

His rank in the clergy was much lower than that of Ayatollah Boroujerdi, but his views about the necessity of an Islamic government coincided with those of Khomeini. The two clerics met often and developed a close working relationship. This displeased Boroujerdi and prompted him to keep aloof from his cumbersome aide. When Dr. Mossadegh became prime minister in and pushed for the nationalization of the British-led oil company, Boroujerdi intimated to the mullahs not to interfere in political matters; nevertheless, Khomeini secretly helped Kashani, who was elected as member of parliament and, through slick maneuvering, became president of the legislative body!

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Khomeini found himself almost totally isolated. Yet he had already gained some renown as theology teacher in the Fayzieh seminar set up by Ayatollah Boroujerdi upon his return to Qum. His entourage called him ayatollah, though he was only a hojat-ol-Islam, and they advised him to nominate representatives in major cities, like other important clerics. His students published his courses in the form of questionanswer books. Khomeini had acted as his quasi secretary for many years and considered himself in good stead. But in order to become a grand ayatollah he had to entertain, like his ailing master, some normal if not close relations with the Shah and the central government.

Despite his opposition to the Pahlavi dynasty, he ceased his attacks overnight. When the Grand Ayatollah Boroujerdi passed away, the Shah, as was customary, sent condolence cables to top clerics. He took the omission as a personal insult and resumed his attacks against the monarch. In fact, the sovereign and his aides were unaware of the existence of this small hyper-ambitious and spiteful ayatollah. His sudden emergence a few years later took almost everybody by surprise: nobody in political circles had even heard his name! This brings me to a remark which I consider essential to the understanding of the —79 events: despite all the 20 Chapter One differences in their upbringing and personal character, Khomeini and the Shah were animated by a common psychological pattern.

He would retreat from time to time into extended periods of meditation. He would remain sometimes forty days in his private reception room, refusing to see visitors and even members of his own family. Did he really meditate? That is possible as he had flirted with mysticism in his youth. Did he think about plans to overthrow the Shah? This is also possible. Did he really expect a visit from archangel Gabriel? He considered himself if not the reincarnation of the Hidden Imam, at least his so-to-say licensed representative on earth. After this period of meditation, he started to speak without ambiguity about the direct reign of the clergy at all levels of the state.

In his campaign against the Shah, he used the themes of xenophobia and anti-Semitism, which corresponded to dormant feelings in the minds of the masses. For some years, Khomeini stayed on guard, teaching his ideas to his students while inviting them to remain extremely prudent. He left the direction of the opposition against the Shah to the followers of the overthrown Dr.

Mossadegh, and to other secular and liberal elements. It became evident much later that he was only shrewdly biding his time! He invited Iranian Muslims to mourn rather than celebrate on the occasion of the Iranian new year, the Nowrouz inherited from the pre-Islamic period, on the grounds that this was a profane non-Muslim festival, almost a pagan practice. But he was preaching in the wilderness and his appeals rarely went farther than Qum.

He sincerely thought that he had muzzled the mullahs once and for all. This situation suited Khomeini fine since he was left almost totally free to pursue his hidden agenda.

The Shah, the Islamic Revolution and the United States

He was teaching his ideas to the young mullahs and multiplying the number of his devotees. He, as well as his minions, kept a low profile; nevertheless, the land reform forced him to break his apparent silence. The clergy opposed the reform, because it would cut their profits from the revenues of vast estates bequeathed by rich people to a kind of charitable foundation managed by the clergy owghaf. In March of that year, Khomeini all of a sudden unlimbered his guns and called the believers to protest against the land reform and other measures.

Demonstrations and counter-demonstrations in the streets of Qum resulted in some casualties. Finally, the monarch allowed him to return to Qum and even resume his teaching. At any rate, with his medieval mind-set and his belief in his own rightness and the protection of Allah and the Saint Imams, Khomeini did not consider himself defeated.

On the contrary, he was convinced that the Shah had yielded! In his way of thinking, the whole episode was nothing but a trial imposed on him by the Almighty in order to evaluate his ability to represent the 12th Hidden Imam on earth. His followers resuscitated the Fedayin-e-Islam under a new and less aggressive appellation, the Hojatich society, which today devotes most of its energy to converting Bahais. In , Khomeini faced two supplementary tests. First, two of his followers who had organized demonstrations in Tehran were condemned to death and executed.

Second, his diatribes did not succeed in provoking new public protests against the reforms. He spoke to them from his house through a number of microphones suspended on the electric line poles. The gist of his statement was that the United States and Israel were conspiring with the Shah in order to erase Islam; only the mullahs and their leaders could, with the help of believers, thwart this satanic scheme. After that, Khomeini invited the other ayatollahs to join him in denouncing the reforms as anti-Islamic.

They agreed, but their opposition was expressed in very moderate terms. Again, the Shah appeared weak, but the masses were not in the mood to follow the appeal of a low-ranking ayatollah. The former considered himself victorious while the latter did not admit defeat. Hubris seized him and he came to consider himself superior to everybody inside and outside the country.

He ceased listening to his aides. His dreams of grandeur overbalanced his sense of reality. The oil boom of the s accentuated these negative traits and megalomania overtook him completely. Very quickly his arrogance became limitless. He would come out of these solitary thinking bouts with extravagant new programs that nobody dared to question. I could only express my views and drop hints; any discussion was out of the question.

He is the teacher, the master, the father, he is everything. And he emerged from one of his solitary meditations with the idea of The Great Civilization, a book which was published a year before the Islamic revolution. This provided our people with the stimulus to identify themselves with their ancient land and its traditional monarchy. Lost in his dreams of grandeur, he failed to understand the mounting concept of human rights and the expanding role of nongovernmental organizations such as Amnesty International.

He underestimated the urban guerrilla and terrorist movements that were developing not only in The Shah and the Ayatollah 27 Iran, but also in the region and elsewhere. His disciples as well as his former students, on the pretext of pilgrimages to holy Shiite sites in Iraq, visited him regularly and brought back to Iran his instructions to his followers. Obviously the Iranian secret police could not watch him in Iraq as closely as in Qum. A former student of Khomeini, Moussa Sadr, had established himself as a top religious and political guide there. Through them, they met with Arafat and his top aides, who agreed to train Iranians in their guerrilla camps.

In the meantime, leftists exiled in Europe had helped the Iranian students, whose numbers were rapidly swelling, to form a united front against the Shah, known as the Confederation of Iranian Students. Khomeini ordered Muslim students to actively cooperate with them. In the United States as well as in other Western countries, the Confederation alerted local student organizations, leftist and liberal political parties, and the media about repression in Iran.

Amnesty International became particularly active. It was said at the time that communists and big oil companies were funding the Confederation.

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The Confederation organized demonstrations everywhere in Europe and America against the Shah and his ministers who travelled outside the country. Intellectuals wrote pamphlets which were distributed everywhere. By , the protests against the Iranian regime had become a constant and vocal annoyance for the Shah. The Muslim students were gaining high positions in the Confederation.

The Mujahiddins, who called themselves Muslim Marxists, failed to mobilize the peasants and workers. Unsuccessful in the countryside, they transformed themselves into urban guerrillas and terrorist groups. They assassinated a number of American military advisers. Like the Shah in Tehran, Khomeini, in Najaf, seemed removed from the realities of the world.

He spent days in meditative retreat, refusing to see even his family and his closest aides. He dreamed about the particulars of his Islamic state. He thought about the ways and means to establish in Iran the kind of Islamic government the Prophet ran in the seventh century in Medina and Ali ran in Kufa in the eighth century. But what he called the true Islam resembled more what had overtaken the Muslim world in the twelfth century when almost at the same time and everywhere fundamentalist interpretations of the Koran had become the core of the religion.

One can even say that it had become more ascetic than before!

Opposed to the ostentation The Shah and the Ayatollah 29 and luxuries of the Imperial Court in Tehran, the ayatollah conducted a simple, almost destitute mode of existence. Moreover, by considering himself as a descendant of the Prophet seyed and the representative of the 12th Imam Hidden Imam , Khomeini was not so far from the Shah who, with the Persepolis festivities, had linked himself to Cyrus and the Achaemenian dynasty! In any case, there is no dearth of common traits between the two men who nurtured profound hatred for each other.

Thus, the two men who nursed such hatred for each other and had different lifestyles, were nevertheless oddly alike, as if they were cast in the same mold. They were almost similar in their ideas of governance, yet, they contrasted in lifestyle and worldly appearance! How can one explain such a paradox? The truth is that the resemblances between them can be traced in all those who have governed Iran since the remotest past; indeed, through history, Iranian sovereigns possess a number of common characteristics and traits.

It is as though some kind of invisible crucible exists in which all the candidates to the supreme leadership of the Iranian nation must spend a period of incubation in order to acquire the necessary qualities of Iranian governance and become acceptable to the people. True faith is the greatest guarantee of spiritual health and moral perseverance and the most powerful mainstay of every human being in facing life problems, great or small, and at the same time the surest moral guardian of every society.

Our people enjoy the blessing of living under the banner of the most progressive and elevated religious principles, namely those of the sacred faith of Islam. This faith, whose sublime teachings and principles embrace the most perfect material and spiritual advancement of mankind, can be the highest guide to individuals and to society at every stage of social evolution.

The pride and the secret and the complete success of our revolution lie in this very fact that the principles of this revolution are throughout inspired by the spirit and essence of the exalted teachings of Islam. It certainly reminds one of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who has developed such ideas in his books and interviews.

Both Ayatollah Rafsanjani and President Khatami have uttered comparable notions at a Friday prayer or in political gatherings. At any rate, the ideas developed in the preceding quotation are spread, day and night, by the media of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The extract is actually excerpted from a book composed by Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, under the title Toward the Great Civilization! This should not surprise the reader: as I have indicated in the previous chapter, both men possess quite a number of common traits.

The similitudes between Iranian leaders, as I pointed out in the preceding chapter, go back to the remotest past. Thus, Cyrus or Darius as well as any Sassanid emperor could have authored the quotation, provided one replaces in the text Islam with Zoroastrianism! Continuity is the hallmark of Iranian culture.

Indeed, many constants blaze the trails of the 3,year-old Iranian history. Present historians, as well as those of the past century, have often emphasized what they call the permanence of Iran, meaning that old Iranian traditions have survived the many calamities and invasions that have The Enduring Mythology of Persia 33 struck the Caspian Plateau. Many ancient beliefs linger in the mind of Iranians today and sometimes trigger reactions which seem incomprehensible to foreign observers.

You stunned the whole world by overthrowing with your bare hands the powerful dictatorship of the Shah. And now your compatriots voluntarily, if not enthusiastically, submit to another dictator, even more totalitarian and repressive than the Shah and his regime! Despite its undeniable material and technical development, Iran, in , remained at heart a traditional society in the sense given to that term by sociologists and historians.

The Shah, prey to his own hubris, entertained the illusion that Iran had already broken the walls of backwardness and underdevelopment and become part of the modern and advanced world. Despite his deep-seated anti-Marxist philosophy and his almost superstitious religious beliefs, material signs of progress dazzled him to a fault and blinded him to all other factors. For example, in his Toward the Great Civilization, he wrote, Tehran, which never appeared on the list of places in which worldwide economic activities occurred, became one of the most animated centers of the world for such activities.

The Iranian industrial era started. In other words, the said production had increased more than 16fold in the space of only 15 years. The volume of national savings, which is an index of the soundness of the state of the public economy, increased from 45 to 1, billion rials. Indeed, without such an infrastructure Iraq would have rapidly defeated Iran!

Yet this modern and wealthy Iran, whose rapid emergence had bewildered world experts in the s, was only the tip of an iceberg, of which two thirds was still steeped in the Middle Ages! But dazzled by the initial successes of the rapid economic progress and his obsessive dream of the Great Civilization, and also prodded by his terminal malady, the Shah could not or did not want to acknowledge reality in its entirety: Iran, despite its rapid and tangible progress, remained largely a traditional society.

Despite the advice of his aides and some foreign experts, he decided to gallop through his programs. Thus, Ayatollah Khomeini, like all other militant Muslim fundamentalists, Sunnite or Shiite such as, for instance, Sheikh Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Palestinian Hamas extremist group , was sincerely convinced of the existence of a conspiracy by Israel and the West aiming to erase Islam from the surface of the planet. In the view of these militant fundamentalists, the Crusades never ended.

They earnestly see Great Satans and lesser ones around them! In the absence of a criterion helping to separate facts from fiction and reality from legend, people of traditional societies are forced to speculate, to imagine, and to fancy. They constantly sway from bewilderment to dread and vice versa. Spates of other examples can be cited. One can say that Iranians not unlike other Third World nations and sometimes groups of immigrants in the most advanced countries , tow with them, as it were, large chunks of medieval and even more remote concepts and beliefs.

Indeed, many ancient Iranian legends remain alive in Iran and have also pervaded the Islamic, 36 Chapter Two Judaic, and Christian faiths. In this respect, some historians consider that the Jewish messiah, the return of Jesus, the Islamic Sunnite Mahdi and the Shiite Hidden Imam, originate in the Zoroastrian awaited Shoshyant.

Thus, at the start of the Islamic revolution, a number of Iranians among the most devout saw in Khomeini the reincarnation of the awaited 12th Imam. In ancient times, Darius, for his part, proclaimed that he was the reincarnation of the legendary hero Thraetaona Feridun , who saved Iran from the clutches of the tyrant Zahak and his master Ahriman the devil. Be this as it may, myths are alive in traditional societies and continue to determine individual and collective conduct. As Mircea Eliade reminded us in almost all his books, myths always recount a primordial event that happened at the beginnings of time.

By listening to a myth, men learn not only about the manner in which something came into existence, but also how they must themselves proceed in their lives. According to ancient Iranian cosmology, every terrestrial phenomenon, whether abstract or concrete, corresponds to a celestial term or model.

Pre-Islamic mythology and the legends concerning Prophet Muhammad and the 12 Imams are all kept alive through education and oral recitation by public storytellers. More than that, Iranians have always been attracted by their long and glorious past. This truth is present in the mind of the whole Iranian family. It is not only the educated class that knows and expresses it; the lowest people too are proud of it, repeat it and often discuss it. Tradition exerts a great authority on the mind of the population. The past is even a favorite subject of conversation among the populace.

The Persian nationality evinces itself by one additional symptom: the affection at the remembrance of the Imams. The latter are the sons and grandsons of Ali who himself is included in this veneration which verges on real adoration. In this perspective, for instance, the death of Hussein son of Ali and grandson of Prophet Muhammad , besieged by the Ummayad 38 Chapter Two general Yazid in the Kerbela desert, was linked to ancient Iranian pre-Islamic mourning rituals of heroes.

According to Shiite mythology, the imitation of the fate of Hussein, the Prince of Martyrs, instantly opens the gates of paradise. I do not intend, in the limited space of this book, to take stock of all the vast and extremely rich Iranian mythology.

US had extensive contact with Ayatollah Khomeini before Iran revolution | World news | The Guardian

I would instead concentrate on a few elements of the ancient legends that might shed light on some unexplained aspects of the —79 Iranian revolution. One such element can be found in the story of Jamshid and Zahak, which is widespread among Iranians of all classes. Then, one day, Jamshid ascended to the throne and started a rule of justice and progress. Jamshid could therefore reconstruct the country. He built The Enduring Mythology of Persia 39 Persepolis in Persian, Throne of Jamshid ; he set up a system of irrigation that revived arid lands; he constructed roads that linked the cities and favored trade; he helped peasants and artisans.

Overwhelmed by hubris and conceit, he forgot his indebtness to Ahura Mazda. You should therefore worship me as your king and the master of the world. Ahriman returned and helped Zahak to overthrow Jamshid and take his place. In order to prevent any good deed on the part of the new king and to ensure continuous tyranny, he kissed Zahak on his naked shoulders from which two black serpents sprang up. Otherwise they will bite you. People lamented and prayed for Ahura Mazda to send them a savior. The parallel of this story with the events of the s is remarkable. The program of reforms that started in was just beginning to yield its first fruits when the Shah, falling, as it were, into the sin of presumption, ordered the famous Persepolis festival of September to commemorate the th anniversary of the foundation of the Iranian Empire by Cyrus and to present himself as the heir and continuator of the great Achaemenian king.

After the tripling of oil prices in —75, his 40 Chapter Two arrogance became limitless. He adopted a teaching tone and in all his interviews gave lessons to the leaders of the world, including those of the well-developed countries, and more particularly the superpowers! To come back to the Jamshid and Zahak legend, the people, as already indicated, suffering from the tyranny of the new monarch, were lamenting and praying for Ahura Mazda to send a savior who would deliver them from the clutches of the bloody tyrant who killed two adolescents every day in order to feed the serpents on his shoulder.

Pitying the wretched citizens, Ahura Mazda inspired the blacksmith Kaveh to bring back from the peak of Damavand the hero Feridun and start a revolt against Zahak, who was eventually dethroned.

Khomeini and his underlings seemed to follow the same mythological cycle even more quickly than the Shah did. Indeed, in less time than the monarch, they turned into unrelenting tyrants. It is of no importance that Khomeini and Khamenei relate themselves to Imam Ali rather than to Cyrus, as the Shah used to do. What is striking is that Iranian leaders, as far back as history and legend go, have always become despots if they were not already when they came to power!

They seem to reproduce the Indian mythological diptych of Mitra—Viruna the benevolent and violent aspects of the ruler. But it manifests itself at different moments, so that the people are always fobbed. He protects them as long as they submit to his commands, but does not hesitate to punish them severely when they fail to carry out his orders. Replacing the shahs, the mullahs followed suit.

The despotic nature of Iranian rulers can be traced to several characters in the ancient mythological tales and particularly to the great champion Rostam. This legendary superhero, was resuscitated by Ferdowsi in his monumental epic poem, Shahnameh Book of Kings , written toward the end of the tenth century. From early childhood, all Iranians know his story as told to them by their mothers or nannies.

Storytellers constantly recite the exploits of the Iranian superman in teahouses or other public places. Among the many strands of thematic interest going on all at once in the poem, one of the most important concerns the ongoing battles between Iran, a country of sedentary culture and thriving cities, and Touran, a land of steppes and nomadism. After each quirk of destiny, a savior king appears, who reestablishes independence, starts a new dynasty, and reimposes the national culture and mores.

He is probably the most well-known legendary hero, a kind of unbeatable superman. One day Rostam goes hunting near the border of Touran. After eating lunch, he takes a nap. He walks into the kingdom of Samangan and is invited to be a guest of the king. He spends the night with Tahmineh, the daughter of the king, and, after he recovers his horse, returns home.

Nine months later, his son Sohrab is born and grows rapidly to become a strong and mighty warrior in the Touranian armies. He constantly searches for his father, whom he has never met. But in a second confrontation Rostam wounds him fatally before discovering his real identity. The superman gives vent to his profound sorrow. What happened is what had to happen. It then appeared to me that in the Iranian tradition sons do not kill their fathers and are often slain by them; they have to await his natural or accidental exit before taking his place.

He therefore was not overthrown in the literal sense of the term. Moreover, in , the demonstrators in the streets never walked toward his palace as would have been natural in a revolution. A similar script presided over the change of dynasty in The theoretical framework of this study is based on S. This article also explicates why reception of this particular work in Iran differs from its universal trend. Asselineau, R. The Literary Reputation of Hemingway in Europe. Roger Asselineau. Christmas, H.

London: J. W-Parker, Daryabandari, N. Some Works Are Untranslatable. Hoveyda, F. Westport: Praeger Publishers. Nafisy, H. Durham: Duke University Press. Taghvaei, N. Nakhoda Khorshid. Mohammad Ali Soltanzadeh.