Irdc.ir: Imam Khomeini (RA), with his unique sagacity, took advantage of all the legitimate means and approaches in order to topple the Shah’s regime and substitute it with the Islamic Republic. Through creating consecutive crises, he challenged the legitimacy of the regime and destabilized it. He undermined the regime’s sources of power. By taking advantage of the Shiite tenets, culture, symbols, and institutions, Imam Khomeini (RA) overthrew the Shah’s regime and substituted it with the Islamic Republic. In order to clarify the issue, Imam Khomeini (RA)’s strategies are reviewed as follows.
A. Creating the Legitimacy Crisis for the Regime
In order to materialize his strategic objectives, Imam Khomeini (RA) was concentrated on challenging the legitimacy of the Pahlavi Dynasty and the monarchical regime.
1. Rejecting the legitimacy of the Shah’s regime: Referring to the downfall of Reza Shah during World War II and the support of the Allied forces in succeeding him with his son, Imam Khomeini (RA) had repeatedly referred to the Shah’s regime as a puppet of the Allied powers and, as a result, an illegitimate regime. Another argumentation that he provided for proving the illegitimacy of the Pahlavi Dynasty was rooted in the monarchical Constitution. That Constitution stipulated that monarchy is a divine blessing bestowed on the Shah by the people. Imam Khomeini (RA) argued that people did not actually bestow this divine blessing on Reza Shah. "If we suppose that people had actually bestowed Reza Khan with such a divine blessing, he is now dead and his rule has come to an end. Our ancestors had acted on their own behalf rather than on our own,” he said. Addressing the Shah, Imam Khomeini (RA) pointed out: "Which people have voted for you? You are acknowledging that people have voted for your father.” "Based on this argumentation, the Shah’s regime has no legitimacy, because people have not bestowed him with this divine blessing,” he added. When popular demonstrations reached to their climax on the eve of the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (RA) provided another argumentation for rejecting the legitimacy of the Shah’s monarchical regime. He said: "If we suppose that people have, based on this article of the Constitution, authorized Mohammad Reza to rule over the country, the same people can withdraw their approval and reject his authority. According to the Constitution, this withdrawal is legal. If we have so far acknowledged Mohammad Reza’s kingship, we are no longer approving of him, because people are rejecting him now. Therefore, he is no longer the monarch.”
Imam Khomeini (RA) provided another argumentation for rejecting the legitimacy of the Shah’s regime. "According to the Constitution, the Shah has no right to interfere in administrative affairs. Rather, only the cabinet and the parliament are allowed to adopt administrative decisions about the country. However, the Shah has repeatedly claimed that he is the only commander in the country and all governments have acknowledged that all their decisions had been made according to the Shah’s order,” he observed. Imam Khomeini (RA) reiterated that the parliament, too, has been engaged in ratifying the Shah’s decisions. Therefore, he pointed out, "All these initiatives have been illegal. Since the Shah has been personally engaged in these illegal decisions, his regime is illegitimate.”
2. Rejecting the legitimacy of the Pahlavi Dynasty: Imam Khomein (RA) rejected both the legitimacy of the Shah’s regime and the Pahlavi Dynasty. He repeatedly referred to Reza Khan as a "British puppet”. He argued that Reza Shah had been illegally appointed as the monarch and, therefore, the Pahlavi Dynasty had been ruling over the country illegitimately. Referring to the decision of the 5th term of the National Consultative Assembly (the Majlis) in substituting the Qajar Dynasty with the Pahlavi Dynasty, Imam Khomeini (RA) said: "That decision was illegitimate and Reza Shah was illegally appointed as the substituting monarch.” Imam Khomeini (RA) described the amendment to the Constitution which substituted the Qajar Dynasty with the Pahlavi Dynasty as an illegal act, because "they carried it out through the use of force. That Constitution was amended with articles that were contrary to its content.” He considered the Constitutional Assembly which approved the everlasting inheritance of the Iranian throne in the Pahlavi Dynasty as illegal because "Reza Khan established a puppet Constitutional Assembly through the use of force. All of us are remembering that the Constitutional Assembly was a puppet of him and a Constitutional Assembly established by the use of force is actually illegal.”
3. Annulment of the Legitimacy of the Monarchical System: Imam Khomeini (RA) was not only challenging the legitimacy of Mohammad Reza Shah and the Pahlavi Dynasty but also defied the fundamental bases of the monarchical system. That was the greatest blow to the Pahlavi regime. During their 50 years of rule over the country, the Pahlavis took advantage of all available material and spiritual means in order to prove the legitimacy of the monarchical system. However, Imam Khomeini (RA) created a tremendous storm in the society and undermined the legitimacy of monarchical system in Iran as a result of which Mohammad Reza Shah was faced with a severe legitimacy crisis. Describing the monarchical regime as an irrational system of governance, he reiterated that this system is incompatible with the Islamic principle of monotheism, because this principle negates the hegemony of a man over another man. He said: "The principle of monotheism is our most important and invaluable principle. Based on this principle, we believe that the Almighty God is the sole creator of man and the whole universe who is fully aware of all realities and capable of doing everything. According to this principle, human beings are only allowed to obey the Almighty God. They are not allowed to obey other human beings, except those who have been assigned by the Almighty God. Therefore, no human being is entitled to oblige other human beings to obey him.” Therefore, Imam Khomeini (RA) believed that there is no compatibility between Islam and the monarchical system of governance. Interpreting Imam Hussein (PBUH)’s uprising against Yazid as a confrontation against monarchical forms of governance, Imam Khomeini (RA) pointed out: "Monarchism and regency is that ill-omen and malevolent form of governance against which Imam Hussein (PBUH) made his uprising and was martyred. He was martyred because he was opposed to Yazid’s regency.”
Through undermining the fundamental bases of Mohammad Reza Shah’s authority, Imam Khomeini (RA) created such a legitimacy crisis for him that his regime, which was one of the oldest monarchical establishments of the world and the most powerful regime of the region, was surprisingly collapsed within one year. It was perhaps for this reason that he not only attacked the Shah’s regime, but also challenged the foundations of the monarchical system. Therefore, Imam Khomeini (RA) rejected any proposal that contributed to the preservation of the monarchical regime. What is significantly important is the fact that Imam Khomeini (RA)’ s outlooks were immediately reflected in slogans chanted by people who were demonstrating in the streets of various Iranian cities.
4. Rejecting the Legitimacy of the Majlis: the National Consultative Assembly (or the Majlis) was the only remaining trace of the Iranian Constitutional Movement. Since its 6th term, the Majlis became a totally non-elected institution whose only responsibility was giving legitimacy to the Shah’s whims. Based on his policy of creating legitimacy crisis for the regime, Imam Khomeini (RA) was always trying to question the legitimacy of the Majlis. He said: "A Majlis whose members are not elected by people’s vote is not legitimate.” "Since Reza Shah’s era, we have had no Majlis whose deputies had been elected by the vote of the people,” he added. Imam Khomeini (RA) argued that "during Mohammad Reza Shah’s reign, too, Majlis deputies were never elected by the people. They were appointed by the Shah. Lists of individuals were brought [to the Shah] by embassies [of superpowers] and deputies were selected from them. Such a Majlis is contradictory to the Constitution and has no legitimacy.” By negating the legitimacy of the Majlis, Imam Khomeini (RA) attacked the fundamental bases of the Pahlavi Dynasty and created continuous legitimacy crisis for the Shah’s regime.