The effects of the Imam’s letter to Gorbachev

Marzieh Dabbaq: The Imam’s letter to Gorbachev was monotheistic not diplomatic

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Marzieh Dabbaq: The Imam’s letter to Gorbachev was monotheistic not diplomatic

Marzieh Hadidchi also known as Tahira Dabbaq, who was a political prisoner and an armed activist during the Pahlavi regime, started her anti Pahlavi activities in 1971. She escaped from the country with a fake passport in 1975 after being arrested and tortured by the SAVAK twice. She joined in food strikes in France and England for the freedom of Iranian political prisoners. In Saudi Arabia she spread Imam Khomeini’s announcements between the pilgrims. However most of his activities outside of Iran were related to training the Lebanese and Syrians in guerrilla fighting.
During Imam Khomeini’s stay in Paris, she joined him and after the victory of the revolution she had some positions like the commander of Hamadan’s IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Sepah-e- Pasdaran) and manager of Tehran’s women prison. She was the first IRGC commander of the west of Iran after the revolution, three times MP, head of the women branch of Basij of I. R. Iran and the founder of the Intifada defenders union. She participated in this interview with Jamaran news agency despite her illness.

Mrs. Dabbaq told us about her selection as one of the Iranian delegation to deliver Imam Khomeini’s message to Gorbachev: “At that time apart from being an MP for our great nation, I was also in charge of the women prisons of the Tehran province. I visited the prisons on days I did not work in parliament. One day when I was visiting the Kachoei prison they paged me from the office, I was worried at first but when I went to the office I found out that Haj Ahmad Khomeini had called me. I finished my work before noon and went to Jamaran. Haj Ahmad Khomeini told me that Imam Khomeini had written a letter for Mr. Gorbachev and has selected me among the other women as his representative along with Ayatollah Javadi Amoli and Mr. Javad Larijani. Sayyid Ahmad also said: “Be ready because whenever the Imam says, you will have to go and deliver this message to Gorbachev.”  As anybody else would have been, at first I was a bit curious about what the message was. Another question that arose in my mind was why the Imam wanted to send a message to the Soviet Union, which is a communist state, because I knew that the Imam had always rejected the communists. However since we always believed in full obedience to the Imam, it was normal for me to just get ready.”

She continued: “In those days the UN Security Council Resolution 598 had just been accepted by Iran and it was time for reconstructing the country. Thus the question all parties and groups were asking was, are we going to get help from a foreign country in reconstructing the country? And why is it that the Imam has selected a communist state to ask for help from, while there are other countries such as the United States, UK, France, Germany and …? Therefore people thought that there would be many dangers and so emotions ran high.”

The member of the Iranian delegation to Gorbachev stated: “The next day or the day after, we went to the airport along with Ayatollah Javadi Amoli and Mr. Javad Larijani. The late Ahmad Khomeini was also at the airport and with the great sense of humor he always had, he told us to write our wills and then go. Of course Imam Khomeini had also told us that your plane might be hijacked and moved to the US or Israel, maybe they’ll fire at your plane, or maybe the Soviet forces will arrest you after you deliver the message. This was because the entire world wanted to know what the message was about. Even inside Iran no one knew what the message was about apart from a small number of people.”

She continued: “After the takeoff, we said our noon prayers and had lunch, then Ayatollah Javadi Amoli gave the letter to us so we could read it. When we read the letter we found out that the letter was completely different to what we had thought, and it wasn’t a letter asking for help, but it was a letter about God, the prophet and humanity and these issues. It wasn’t related to the country’s issues and the imposed war.”

Dabbaq continued: “After reading the letter I felt like a great honor had been given to me. And all the worries inside me were gone, and our minds were free of all the anticipations. To be honest we were kind of proud that we were the carriers of such a great man’s message. Nevertheless, how the Soviet officials were going to react when hearing the words of Imam, which would destroy all their 70 years of work in building their state because the Imam had stated: ‘I can hear the bones of communism breaking?’, was still a question that remained in our heads.

She added: “When we arrived to the Soviet Union some people came to welcome us. Mr. Gorbachev’s personal staff came to welcome us. I felt that when he saw my veil and Ayatollah Javadi Amoli’s aba he was a bit shocked and didn’t know what’s going on.  Usually when a delegation goes to a country they bring a flower and give it to the head of the delegation, this person gave the flower to me, I felt like he was shivering and didn’t understand what he was doing, and I passed the flower to Ayatollah Javadi Amoli. Any way we got in a car and they took us to the Kremlin palace, which was where they housed their important guests. We couldn’t eat their food, so the members of the Iranian embassy took us the embassy and we had our lunch there. We also had a short meeting at the embassy, then we went back to our rooms. The place frightened me a lot, so even when I wanted to do my ablution I did it under my veil; I felt that there were cameras everywhere.”

This political activist continued: “In the morning when we went to the meeting with Mr. Gorbachev, after entering the palace there was no physical investigation, and they respected us until we reached Mr. Gorbachev’s office. His office was simple. At first they didn’t let our ambassador in the meeting, but after the insistence of the Iranian delegation they let him in.”

She noted the environment of the meeting and added: “The Imam had told us to read the letter and not to deliver it and return; so Ayatollah Javadi Amoli started reading the letter.  He read it and Mr. Larijani translated it into English and an interpreter translated the English to Russian for Mr. Gorbachev. Mr. Gorbachev was resting on a chair and listened to the letter with amazement.”

She then mentioned Gorbachev’s emotional states during the meeting: “At times he was enraged, he wrote down one or two questions ,which he asked Ayatollah Javadi Amoli afterwards: “Imam has invited us to Islam, can we also invite him to communism?” and Ayatollah Javadi Amoli answered him harshly and quickly and he started to think after that. Ayatollah Javadi Amoli said: “Don’t focus on the fact that the Imam is talking to you, the Imam’s letter is about all the nations and people, who have been under the submission of communism for years and don’t have the right to raise their voices. Now that you have taken a step in the right direction, he is advising you to finish your path to the end.” Mr. Gorbachev said: “The Imam has spoken about people, who are oppressed, isn’t this interfering with another government’s issues?” Ayatollah Javadi Amoli responded: “The Soviets own where we are sitting to seven layers below the ground and seven layers of the sky above us. This matter has nothing to do with water and land, humans don’t belong to any one, humans are beyond this and the Imam is talking about humans and humanity. Imam has invited your scholars and philosophers to come to Qom, so they could sit and discus this issue and understand humans and their values, and so they could give back the rights they have taken from the people.” Not only could Gorbachev not answer back, but his face also turned red and he didn’t ask his next question.”

Dabbaq continued: “Finally we finished reading the letter, and so we got up to say goodbye. When we got out of the Kremlin palace we went to the car and went to the airport, because Imam had told us that this delegation should not go anywhere else, they should only inform the message and return and they shouldn’t visit anywhere. We said our noon prayers at the airport in a congregation and returned to Iran. Many people were interested in our congregational prayers and they stood and watched us.”

Marzieh Dabbaq then talked about mentioning the reports of the delegation to Imam: “A few days after our return, Imam asked us to give our report. He asked some questions and the gentlemen answered him. He asked which one us was paying attention to their reactions to the letter, I said: ‘Since I was only looking, I paid attention to them. The part where there was a point about the oppressed people in the Soviet Union was hard for Mr. Gorbachev, also in another part where you invited their elites to Qom for discussions, they were shocked.’ When I said that, the Imam look pleased.”

She continued: “10 or 12 years later, Gorbachev had told a reporter: “I regret the fact that I couldn’t understand the Imam’s message at the time because I could have saved the Soviet Union from what has become of it.””

She added: “Our youth should be more familiar with this letter; they should especially study Ayatollah Javadi Amoli’s book ‘The voice of monotheism’.”

Dabbaq also mentioned the tone of the Imam’s letter to Gorbachev: “Ayatollah Javadi Amoli has picked a great name for this letter, he has written in his book that it was ‘a monotheistic letter from Imam Khomeini to Gorbachev’.  You can’t find anyone in this world who doesn’t believe in supernatural issues, those who believe in religions name that supernatural power God and they submit themselves to God almighty; those who are materialists, even though they see everything as material, they do have a certain inclination to divinity. Even the pagans before the prophet of Islam, who placed idols in the Kaba, believed that somewhere there should be something that they could rely on and that they’re not completely alone. When the Imam wrote this letter he was talking about something beyond man about a superpower, he doesn’t say ‘I am telling you to do this’, he says ‘send your scholars to meet our scholars and let them see what Mulla Sadra has done in philosophy, or what Ibn Arabi has said in mysticism and …’. He doesn’t want to put himself forward, because a man’s word will be effective when he forgets himself and only sees God. The Imam’s letter points to a great deal of the society’s issues, and this is because he’s talking about God and his people, not about his self as the leader of the revolution.”

Mrs. Dabbaq mentioning the spirit of Imam’s letter said: “As much as this letter shows the foresight of the Imam, it also shows his dominance on the issues related to his time; because at that time no one, anywhere could have even thought of the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

She remarked on three points in the Imam’s historical message: “The Imam’s following words are trying to encourage Gorbachev to continue what he had started and to show Gorbachev that his is aware of the start of changes within the Soviet Union: ‘I give my best wishes for the happiness and prosperity of Your Excellency and the people of the Soviet Union. Since you have come into office there has been the impression that Your Excellency, in analyzing world political events, particularly those pertaining to the Soviet Union, have found yourself in a new era of reassessment, change and confrontation; and your boldness and initiative in dealing with the realities of the world is quite likely to bring about changes that would result in upsetting the equations of power dominating the world. I have therefore found it necessary to bring certain matters to your attention.’ In another part of his letter to Gorbachev, the Imam says: “Of course it is possible that as a result of the wrong economic policies of the former Communist authorities and the Western world, an illusionary heaven which is fascinating, will appear; but the truth lies elsewhere.’ Here the Imam tries to inform Gorbachev that the West’s proposals are only for their domination and advices him to be careful not to fall into another mistake. The Imam also states: ‘Should Your Excellency desire further information on these matters, you may command those scholars of yours who are well-versed in this field, to study in addition to the works of Western philosophers, the writings of Peripatetic philosophers such as al-Farabi and Avicenna (peace be upon them), It will then become clear…’ In this part of the letter, the Imam cleverly tries to invite the elite of the Soviet Union to monotheism and theology by studying the views of Iranian philosophy and mysticism.”

When asked what were the effects of this message in the world? Dabaq said: “As an example when I was in England for my medication, I talked to two young students who told me that they had converted to Islam because of the Imam’s letter to Gorbachev, and their thesis in their university was the Imam’s letter from a sociological point of view. The fact is that the Imam was really a man of God. The Imam was raised in Islam’s university; he had guidance in his mind throughout his political life. He said his words using a certain type of literature.  He always knew his audience very well. He even trued to guidea his enemies. If we see this message for its Islamic effect, we see that it has affected the world very much. Its axis was monotheism. This invitation was heard by the entire world. Look at the Soviet countries, and look at their great movements towards independence, freedom and … after they heard this message. On the other hand I also look at the other countries of the world. For example in one of the Latin American countries which I visited, 11 Muslims existed, 1 of them was an Imam and the other 10 said their prayers behind him, and this was how they said their Friday prayers. And all the people knew them; I asked their Imam that does he know Imam Khomeini? He showed me a picture of Imam’s youth (the picture belonged to 1964 when Imam was arrested). I asked: “How much do you know him?” he said: “I didn’t know much about him before his letter to Gorbachev, I only knew he was a fighter for freedom, and that he lived in Iran and he was exiled. But after this letter, I found out that he is indeed one of the best men of our time, and I have made talked about this letter for the Muslims here several times.” So in a faraway country this message has been heard and it has had been affective. Also when I went to China, the Muslims asked me some questions about the Imam’s letter after the prayers. These issues show how much this message has been affective. A lot of people have truly found themselves, thus this letter did not only play a role in the Soviet Union but all over the world.”

She also commented on why the letter wasn’t sent in a diplomatic form and it was sent by a nonpolitical delegation instead, and said: “It is evident what the Imam’s purpose was in this matter. A monotheism and guidance letter cannot be sent in a diplomatic format. This because the Imam was the leader of a society, he wasn’t a president or a prime minister. The Imam understood something that years later everybody figured out and if it had been sent in a diplomatic way it couldn’t have had the effects it has had.”