Barry K. Grossman

Iran’s Islamic Revolution: “impossible” until it became “inevitable”

Indeed, no Revolution in history has enjoyed such widespread popular support or been more clearly committed to a fixed set of universal moral values.

By Barry Grossman*


Thirty-eight years ago, a series of unstoppable events known as Iran’s Islamic revolution unfolded through the committed and pious oversight of Grand Ayatollah Khomeini. That continuing Islamic Revolution against Kafir (disbelivers) influence, together with Sharia (Islamic law) and arguably the only kind of Islamic governance possible in this “age of nation-states” -  Wilayat al-Faqih   -  have, through Ayatollah Khamenei’s subsequent custodianship and guidance, provided the immovable bedrock on which today’s Islamic Republic of Iran was built.

Apart from the original Islamic Revolution which followed The Messenger’s triumphal return to Mecca after the Hijrah, there has never been a better example of a genuinely Islamic, mass rejection of Kafir influence, and certainly no historic example of any “people’s revolution” which enjoyed such overwhelming public support.   Despite many thousands of victims martyred by the despotic Pahlavi regime, none of the 20th century’s ideologically based revolutions elsewhere were so predominantly peaceful in the face of such sustained provocation. 

Indeed, no Revolution in history has enjoyed such widespread popular support or been more clearly committed to a fixed set of universal moral values. Indeed, even critics have observed that at least ten percent of the Iranian population participated directly in Iran’s Islamic Revolution, where as little more that one percent of the relevant populations are said to have participated in each of the 1776 American, the 1789 French, and the 1918 Russian revolutions. [i]

The critics also concede that there “… was no way that the spirit of the revolution would have fizzled out inside Iran nor [could] the eagerness of the people for revolutionary change have been dampened." [ii] The Revolution, in short, is a towering achievement to be celebrated by all Muslims the world over.

Of course, there will always be people who, motivated by sectarian delusions, foreign sensibilities, or worldly self-interest, insist on quibbling over disputed historic details regarding the “means” used to secure and protect the Revolution, while ignoring both the undeniable reality of its “substance and the very real threats to the Revolution routinely posed by the enemies of Iran and Islam.

So, what can we confidently say about the “substance” of Iran’s Islamic Revolution and the circumstances which made it inevitable, without inviting dispute?

Well, to start with, when it comes to the context in which the impossible revolution became inevitable, the brutal US backed dictatorship of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi which was hellbent on delivering up Iran to the Kafir has been stripped naked by history for all to see.

Anyone who harbours doubts about just how brutally oppressive, corrupt, and arrogant the Shah’s US backed kleptocracy was, need only consider that by 1979, the US Carter Administration, NATO, and even that mouthpiece of British colonialism, the BBC, were all openly critical of the regime.  Indeed, having declined US support for a military crack down, the Carter Administration initially opted to extend qualified support for the nascent Revolution, albeit on the naive and absurdly arrogant assumption that Ayatollah Khomeini could somehow be later sidelined and managed as a Gandhi-like spiritual leader expected to embrace US styled democracy, while the US itself organised technocrats and ideologically correct elements in Iran to form a “democratic” and ideologically “correct” government.

Iran’s Islamic Revolution quickly swept away the self-proclaimed ‘king of kings’ corrupt excesses and institutionalised hostility towards Islam, replacing western styled affectations with Islamic Governance. The dreaded SAVAK secret police were immediately disbanded and political prisoners released.  Measured by the usual criteria like GDP, literacy, education, and other such indicators, in simple “worldly” terms Iran’s Revolution has been spectacularly successful considering the unrelenting efforts made by the United States, its Atlantic World Allies, and their regional client states to attack Iran both from within and from without.

Literacy and education rates have soared since the Revolution, especially among women, while maternal and infant mortality rates have declined dramatically. Literacy among women aged 15 to 24 has more than doubled, and school enrollments levels have increased by several orders of magnitude across the board.

In 1979, only 35% of Iranians over the age of 25 had completed their secondary education. After only 11 years of Islamic governance, by 2000, 85% of Iranians over 25 had completed a secondary degree. In 1979, less than 10% of Iranians over the age of 25 completed a tertiary degree. After only 11 years of Islamic governance, by 2000, almost 30% of Iranians over the age 25 held a tertiary degree. In 1979, only 52% of Iranians over the age 6 were considered literate but under Islamic governance, by 2000, 85% of Iranians over the age of 6 were considered literate.[iii]

Even with almost continuous economic sanctions imposed by the US led Atlantic World, under the guardianship of Iran’s Islamic system of governance, nominal GDP has grown substantially since the Revolution, making Iran’s $430+ billion economy the second-largest in the Middle East, with a favourable balance of trade and a predicted rate of real growth in Iran’s more diversified economy well above that forecast for other nations.

Adjusted for purchasing power parity, even using IMF calculations, Iran’s GDP (at $1.3 trillion) ranks only slightly behind Canada (at $1.6 trillion), bearing in mind that Canada is a G7 nation; that is, one of the seven nations considered by the IMF to have the largest ‘advanced economies’ and highest national wealth. 

Although Iran’s population has more than doubled since 1979, implied GDP, adjusted for purchasing power parity, has risen 300% from $4,267 per capita in 1980 to $17,114 per capita in 2016. 

Of course, post Revolution economic progress has at times been volatile but that unfortunate reality simply reflects the extent to which foreign enemies have constantly tried to destabilise Iran, be it through unjustified and counter productive sanctions or straight out war, as well as volatility in oil prices, at least in part driven by OPEC policies intended to advance Saudi geopolitical interests.

It is easy to be overly focused on Iran’s “material” progress achieved under the stewardship of  Islamic governance despite non-stop efforts by the US led Atlantic World to eradicate the light and turn back the clock to the “dark age” which still engulfs kafir lands, but the real accomplishment to be celebrated on this and every anniversary of the events which liberated Iran from kafir yoke,  lies in the spirit, aims and moral legitimacy of Iran’s unqualified rejection of kafir influence and profiteering at Iran’s expense, while at once delivering genuine Islamic social justice to prepare the Ummah (nation) for Mahdi (the Messiah).

Islam’s revolutionary social justice in no way resembles the false promises dangled before a beguiled global public through hollow, purely symbolic gestures like the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the US Bill of Rights, France’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, or the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.  Rather, Iran’s revolutionary social justice is a very real part of governing in accordance with the spirit and the letter of both Sharia and Islam’s universal message expressed through al Qur’an, Hadith, and Sunnah. 

Whereas Atlantic World “justice” asks nothing of the people but promises them the world, Islamic justice comes with both obligations and entitlements attendant on fulfilling those obligations. Whereas Islamic justice delivers all that is promised both for this life and for what inevitably follows, Atlantic World “justice” lies outside the reach of those who lack the means to “buy” it and ultimately delivers nothing.  Whereas Atlantic World justice tends to focus entirely on the individual, Islamic justice balances individual rights and obligations with community interests. 

Bearing in mind these fundamental and irreconcilable differences, it is not surprising that people who profess to embrace the Atlantic World’s ever changing sensibilities about “human rights” grounded only in transient political fashions, are constitutionally incapable of understanding that depriving individuals of justice as ordained by Sharia – be it in the form of a remedy or as punishment – is itself arguably the worst “human rights” abuse imaginable. 

In kafir lands, they say Iran’s revolutionary system of Islamic governance thrives on violating “human rights” but quite apart from grounding their allegations in political rhetoric, propaganda, and straight out fabrications rather than evidence, they are premised on the presumed supremacy of “rights” unknown to Islam and born entirely of transient sensibilities cultivated in Americans by the corporatist “infotainment” industry which, while aiming to sell still more “branded” soap, fast food and soda pop to an uneducated public, simultaneously works to advance the US dominated, New World Order fantasy which the corporate establishment dreams about.

Secularists also presume to criticise Iran’s Islamic Revolution for making governance subject to the dictates of religion. If that is not bad enough, in nominally Muslim lands, where people are yet to taste Islamic Governance, there also is no shortage of “pious” Muslims who have grown fabulously wealthy dominating their secular governments along with clerics loyal to House of Saud money, who together invert this Atlantic World hubris with their own delusional thinking which, in effect, asserts that Iran’s Islamic Revolution burdens Islam with the dictates of politics and governance.  At least the Americans, for all their obvious faults, have the sequence correct, if not the conclusion.

Whatever some Muslims may intuitively feel, the concept of Velayat-e faqih[iv] (that is, ultimate authority in matters of governance vested in a Guardian Jurist guided by Sharia) is in no way necessarily inconsistent with the notion that 'Iman comes before Imam.' Of course, to understand this, one must study both the concept of Velayat-e faqih and the way it has in fact been applied. Unfortunately, that is something most sectarian Muslims are either unwilling or ill equipped to do, preferring to instead practice 'contempt prior to investigation.'

Velayat-e faqih certainly leaves room for people, as a matter of conscience, to arrive at their own conclusions in private matters and, as a practical matter, it cannot be coherently argued that Iran's Islamic Revolution could have occurred, let alone endured without a Supreme Guardian jurist:

  1. to prevent "encroachment by oppressive ruling classes on the rights of the weak" and the plundering and corrupting of the people for the sake of "pleasure and material interest";
  2. to prevent both "innovation” in Islamic law and approval of anti-Islamic laws by sham parliaments;" 
  3. to preserve "the Islamic order" and keep all individuals on "the just path of Islam without any deviation;" and 
  4. to destroy "the influence of foreign powers in the Islamic lands."

Muslims who find fault with Iran’s Islamic governance by impugning the concept of Velayat-e faqih, should honestly ask themselves where their priorities lie and whether their concerns are born of sectarian or secular motives rather than genuinely Islamic imperatives.

In the end, Iran’s Revolution and indeed the universal message of Islam itself stand on merit measured, not in worldly terms defined by the desires of men and women, but rather by the will of Allah. As such, we take it as an article of our deen that both Islam and Iran’s Islamic Revolution are eternal and beyond the reach of schemers who work tirelessly to undo Iran’s achievements and erase that which has been written. The fact that what was once considered impossible in Iran became inevitable and then endured, should in itself tell us something about this.

And so, in the name of Allah, we salute the Islamic Revolution. We salute the resolve of Iran’s people and the wise, steadfast, and, yes, enlightened leadership of both Grand Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Khamenei in steering the Islamic Revolution and the fate of Iran through almost four decades of Islamic governance and unrelenting efforts by the USA and its regional clients states to turn back the clock by any means and at any price.


[i]  Statistics from: Charles Kurzman, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004, p. 121, quoted in "Patterns of Discontent: Will History Repeat in Iran?", Michael Rubin and Patrick Clawson, Middle East Review of International Affairs, March 2006.


[ii] Haleh Esfandiari director of the Woodrow Wilson Middle East Program in Washington, DC. 


[iii] Education related statistics extracted from: “Iranian Economy in the Twentieth Century: A Global Perspective”, Hadi Salehi Esfahani, Iranian Studies, volume xx, number x, April 2009.


[iv] See: “Governance of the Jurist (Velayat-e Faqeeh): Islamic Governance”, Imam Khomeini, authorised translation by Hamid Algar, The Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam Khomeini’s Works (International Division). Available in secure pdf format at:



* Barry K. Grossman received his B.Comm. from the University of Calgary in 1984 and his LLB from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1987.  After working as a litigator at a major commercial law firm in Toronto, he moved to Australia to teach at the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Law in 1988. He later worked for several years as a litigation consultant to the national Australian firm of Freehill, Hollingdale & Page before taking up a full time lectureship at Monash University’s Faculty of Law. Mr. Grossman has written extensively on various legal subjects and is a frequent commentator on political affairs. He is a Muslim and has resided in Indonesia since 1999. 

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  • Iran
  • Islamic Revolution
  • Middle East
  • secularism