Yuram Abdullah Weiler

What is Basij and how does it function against U.S. and Zionism?

The Islamic Revolution, by adding a spiritual dimension to an uncompromising emphasis on justice, has created a paradigm for the liberation of all humankind from oppression by the arrogant powers.

By Yuram Abdullah Weiler*


If the Islamic Revolution had everything that we have today but was deprived of popular and public Basij, it would certainly face an important obstacle when pursuing its affairs.”

—Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution[1]


A unique product of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Basij Organization of the Oppressed (Sazman-e Basij-e Mostaz’afin) was initiated by Imam Sayyed Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini on November 25, 1979.  Established on April 30, 1980, the Basij was initially tasked with aiding the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enqelab-e Eslami) with restoring order and public services in the newly-created Islamic Republic, but quickly became an essential part of the defense forces after Saddam’s attack on September 22, 1980.[2]


And the Basij certainly did yeoman service defending the fledgling Islamic Republic of Iran during the 8-year-long imposed war with Iraq, which is also known as the Sacred Defense.  Along with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), which was formed shortly after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the Basij played a vital role and suffered heavy losses as a result of Saddam's western-backed invasion.  Regarding the Sacred Defense and the parts played by the Basij and the IRGC, Ayatollah Khamenei explained, “Our preoccupation with innumerable internal problems relating to the revolution and our lack of experience made the invasion possible, but the particular characteristics of this revolution came to our rescue.”[3]


In order to understand the distinctiveness of the Basij Resistance Organization, we must first recognize the uniqueness of the Islamic Revolution and its leader, Imam Khomeini.  Unlike the other great revolutions of the modern era, such as the French, Russian and American, the Islamic Revolution was driven by an underlying spiritual dimension, something lacking in the others, which were caused solely by economic and material factors.[4]  The Preamble to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran confirms this distinction, which resulted from the crucial insight of Imam Khomeini, who “came to perceive the necessity of pursuing an authentically Islamic and ideological line in its struggles.”[5]


The merging of the spiritual underpinning of the Islamic Revolution, the quintessential quest for justice infused in Muslims, and relief from oppression for all peoples became enshrined in the Constitution of Iran in Article 154, which states:

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has as its ideal human felicity throughout human society, and considers the attainment of independence, freedom, and rule of justice and truth to be the right of all people of the world. Accordingly, while scrupulously refraining from all forms of interference in the internal affairs of other nations, it supports the just struggles of the oppressed against the arrogant in every corner of the globe.”[6]


So we see that the Islamic Revolution, by adding a spiritual dimension to an uncompromising emphasis on justice, has created a paradigm for the liberation of all humankind from oppression by the arrogant powers.  The subsequent concept, much feared in the west, is known as “exporting the revolution.”  Imam Khomeini himself urged the export of the Islamic Revolution. “We should try to export our revolution to the world,” the Imam stated in March of 1980, while pointing out that Islam “is the supporter of all the oppressed peoples of the world.”  And lest the arrogant powers believe that export of the revolution was to be carried out by force, Imam emphasized, “The export of ideas by force is no export.”[7]


It should be clear that, indeed, the Islamic Revolution represents something new and unique, as Ayatollah Khamenei has pointed out in his recent address before the Basij.  “The Islamic Revolution was a new proposal and a new idea for humanity's life,” he said.  Before the Islamic Revolution, people were coerced into acquiescing to the hollow hedonism of western capitalist materialism, or the spiritually void, but arguably better-intentioned, ideology of the communist bloc.  Hence, the Leader is correct in stating, “The Islamic Revolution produced, created and presented this new idea.”  Moreover, this new idea “saved the world from the hell that had been created by global power-seekers and those politicians who knew nothing about spirituality.”[8]


In reaction to this new idea introduced by the Islamic Revolution, the leaders of the hegemonic powers, most recently the current U.S. president, have unceasingly denigrated Iran with vociferous verbal volleys void of veracity.  Trump, for his part, referred to “the rogue regime in Iran,” he spoke of “the Iranian dictatorship” and pontificated, “Iran is under the control of a fanatical regime that seized power in 1979.”[9] 

One New York Times foreign correspondent, Elaine Sciolino, with typical western haughtiness, asked, “What exactly is an ‘Islamic Republic,’ anyway?”  Despite her obvious lack of ability to comprehend the concept, she nevertheless concedes, “This was something new.”[10] And she was right, as indeed the Leader stressed in his address, “This was a new idea in the world.”  As to the specific meaning of “Islamic Republic,” Ayatollah Khamenei also explained, “‘Republic’ means reliance on the strength, power, determination, faith and innovation of the people,” while “‘Islamic’ means working for and in the way of God, and working with the purpose of gaining divine satisfaction within the framework of divine and Islamic values.”[11]


The Leader of the Islamic Revolution went on to explain the different types of Islam: one kind consists of a moderate “Islam” palatable to the west that will fit neatly inside an existing political system in a given country, and the other is the Divinely-revealed Islam as interpreted by the scholars and sought after by the people.  The former “Islam,” which is made to fit within an existing political system, is really just an aggregation of imagery of Islam without adherence to its ethics and values.  The latter is Islam from which a political system is derived in conformance with its injunctions and ideologies.  “The Islamic Republic implemented Islam,” the Leader noted, meaning the latter form of Islam upon which the political system of Iran is based.[12]


Professor Hamid Algar observed, “One of the remarkable things is that in the course of the [Islamic] Revolution, people who had no particular commitment to Islam in an ideological fashion came to rediscover Islam and at the same time made a commitment to Islam as a revolutionary force through the self-evident moral and spiritual values of Ayatollah Khomeini himself.”[13]  It was on this basis that so many Iranians were led to volunteer and hence the tremendous growth of the Basij Resistance Organization. 


Without this outpouring of human resources, attaining the lofty goals of the Islamic Revolution would have been much more difficult. “Basij means that the mass of human resources consider it their responsibility to achieve lofty goals,” the Leader explained.  Clearly, without the insight of Imam Khomeini of adding an Islamic ideological dimension to the revolution, these masses of Iranians would not have been inspired to volunteer and thereby make a commitment to Islam in order to achieve those lofty goals.


Ayatollah Khamenei warned, “[T]he enmity of the enemies of truth and of God is never-ending.”  Yet contrary to all prognostications and pontifications by western pundits, the people of the Islamic Republic and the Basij “have managed to defeat arrogant America and bring it to its knees!”  The Leader also noted that there are millions who are not formally Basij members but are in some way acting in that capacity.[14]  It would be my fondest hope that, as a result of writing articles such as this, I, too, would be counted among them, insha’Allah.




[1] Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, “The Islamic Revolution is a new idea for humanity's life,” Khamenei.ir website, November 22, 2017, accessed November 28, 2017, http://english.khamenei.ir/print/5296/The-Islamic-Revolution-is-a-new-idea-for-humanity-s-life.

[2] Ali Alfoneh, “The Basij Resistance Force,” The Iran Primer, United States Institute of Peace, 2010, updated 2015, accessed November 28, 2017, http://iranprimer.usip.org/resource/basij-resistance-force.

[3] Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2013), 38-39.

[4] R.K. Ramazani, “Iran’s Export of the Revolution: Politics, Ends, and Means,” in The Iranian Revolution, ed. John L, Esposito (Gainesville, FL: Florida International University Press, 1990), 46-48.

[5] Constitution of Iran (Islamic Republic of) 1979, (rev. 1989), Constitute Project, November 23, 2017, accessed November 28, 2017, https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Iran_1989.pdf?lang=en.

[6] Constitution of Iran, ibid.  Note: The author has translated mustad'afun and mustakbirun as oppressed and arrogant respectively.

[7] R.K. Ramazani, ibid., 50.

[8] Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, ibid.

[9] Donald Trump, “Remarks by President Trump on Iran Strategy,” The White House, October 13, 2017, accessed November 28, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/10/13/remarks-president-trump-iran-strategy.

[10] Elaine Sciolino, Persian Mirrors: The Elusive Face of Iran (New York: Free Press, 2005), 72.

[11] Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Hamid Algar, The Islamic Revolution in Iran (Qom: Ansariyan, 2006), 61.

[14] Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, ibid.




*Yuram Abdullah Weiler is a former engineer educated in mathematics turned writer and political critic who has written over 130 articles on Islam, social justice, economics, and politics focusing mainly on the Middle East and U.S. policies.  His work has appeared on Tehran Times, Mehr News, Press TV, Iran Daily, IRIB, Fars News, Palestine Chronicle, Salem-News, Khabar Online, Imam Reza Network, Habilian Association, Shiite News, Countercurrents, Uruknet, Turkish Weekly, American Herald Tribune and Hezbollah. In addition, he has frequently appeared as a guest commentator on Press TV, Al Etejah, and Alalam. A dissenting voice from the “Belly of the Beast”, he currently lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico USA.


The views, opinions and positions expressed on Op-Ed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of Khamenei.ir .


  • 2017-12-02 15:27
    Good some westerners are awake to this knowledge. Not all westerners can comprehend greatness of Baseej.