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The Sayings of Ayatollah Khomeini Paperback – Sep 1985


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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Bantam Books (Sept. 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553140329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553140323
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.4 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,571,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 July 2008
Reminiscent of the thoughts of the father of freedom John Locke, these sayings are of course rooted in an indigenous Iranian tradition of respect and individual freedom within a certain religious milieu. No influence is implied at all; the tone is in any case much nicer than that of the snooty English liberal. The frank, matter-of-fact style is what makes the writing so endearing. Furthermore, the author displays none of the silly taboos or avoidance of perfectly natural functions - an annoying Western habit - which is refreshing and liberating. Reading the book was like having a talk about the birds and the bees with a wise and kindly uncle. Henceforth, I shall think of the esteemed Author as the Avuncular Philosopher.

But first - j'accuse! The outrageously distorted picture of the Great Ayatollah in the West is due to The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America as Martin S Kramer so convincingly argues in his work Ivory Towers on Sand. This is confirmed by Khomeini himself when he points out that "[The imperialists] mobilized their Orientalist scholars in the service of imperialism ..." Having been a keen follower of the work of John Esposito and Karen Armstrong, I must respectfully but forcefully express my abject disappointment in both, neither of whom has ever introduced me to these precious words from Valayate-Faghih (The Kingdom of the Learned), Kashfol-Asrar (The Key to Mysteries) and Towzihol-Masael (The Explanation of Problems).

This English text, translated by Harold J Salemson, contains a prologue consisting of a Special Introduction by Clive Irving, Editor's Note by Tony Hendra and Preface by compiler Jean-Marie Xaviere.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Khomeini Says 27 Feb. 2005
By William Garrison Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
This 1980 Bantam paperback has severely yellowed due to its cheap paper. It claims it was translated from the Persian by Jean-Marie Xaviere into French (1979) and then into English by Harold Salemson. At the top of the paperback cover it reads: "The Little Green Book". It has about 300+ one- or two- sentence "quotations" from Khomeini -- but none are attributed to any source(s). Khomeini opines on the topics: Revolutionary Religion, Colonialism, Justice, Media and Propaganda, Temporary Marriages Okay, On the Manner of Urinating, On the Manner of Eating, On Ablution, On the Five Namaz, On Woman and Her Periods, On Marriage, On Taxes...and more. A few quotes: "Women of the lineage of the Prophet...are menopausal at the age of sixty; others, once they are over fifty."...."nor may a Moslem man marry a non-Moslem woman in continuing marriage, but he may take a Jewish or Christian woman in temporary marriage."...."A woman who has not yet reached the age of nine...may remarry immediately after divorce."...."Every part of the body of a non-Moslem individual is impure."...."One must avoid giving the Koran to an infidel; it is even recommended that it be forcibly taken away from him." Great quotes, but no attributions.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Disturbing Look Into the Mind of a Fanatic 19 July 2008
By Ky. Col. - Published on Amazon.com
For a little over a decade in the late twentieth century, the Ayatollah Khomeini burst onto the world stage from exile and became the figurehead of a revolution that toppled a decadent and at times ruthless Shah only to replace it with an oppressive theocratic republic. The seeds of the modern Middle East were partially sown under Khomeini's leadership. This brief volume contains translations of some of Khomeini's sayings while in exile on subjects ranging from Holy War, to government, to sexual relations, to taxes, to wiping one's butt (yes, you heard me correctly). I personally feel this book needs to be more highly read by Americans if it even halfway describes the Ayatollah's true opinions. The overall result is a disturbing look into the mind of a man who seemed to think of himself as a Shi'a Islamic messiah. Overall, I recommend it to anyone interested in Middle Eastern history or who just wants a taste of what a fanatic thinks.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Shocking reading 22 Aug. 2010
By PeterDK - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I have heard about this book for long time, but never managed to find a copy. If you want to know what is happening in the western world today, this is a must on your bookshelf.
I have very intense knowledge of Islam and the various hadits, and know about the modern rulings. This is really shocking reading, it is way beyond my wildest imaginations, and I really can't see why we take a ideology whose top people write this seriously.
7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Perceptive Philosopher, Proven Prophet & Tolerant Theologian 13 July 2008
By Peter Uys - Published on Amazon.com
Reminiscent of the thoughts of the father of freedom John Locke, these sayings are of course rooted in an indigenous Iranian tradition of respect and individual freedom within a certain religious milieu. No influence is implied at all; the tone is in any case much nicer than that of the snooty English liberal. The frank, matter-of-fact style is what makes the writing so endearing. Furthermore, the author displays none of the silly taboos or avoidance of perfectly natural functions - an annoying Western habit - which is refreshing and liberating. Reading the book was like having a talk about the birds and the bees with a wise and kindly uncle. Henceforth, I shall think of the esteemed Author as the Avuncular Philosopher.

But first - j'accuse! The outrageously distorted picture of the Great Ayatollah in the West is due to The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America as Martin S Kramer so convincingly argues in his work Ivory Towers on Sand. This is confirmed by Khomeini himself when he points out that "[The imperialists] mobilized their Orientalist scholars in the service of imperialism ..." Having been a keen follower of the work of John Esposito and Karen Armstrong, I must respectfully but forcefully express my abject disappointment in both, neither of whom has ever introduced me to these precious words from Valayate-Faghih (The Kingdom of the Learned), Kashfol-Asrar (The Key to Mysteries) and Towzihol-Masael (The Explanation of Problems).

This English text, translated by Harold J Salemson, contains a prologue consisting of a Special Introduction by Clive Irving, Editor's Note by Tony Hendra and Preface by compiler Jean-Marie Xaviere. Then follows Part One: Political and Philosophical Sayings with edifying observations on colonialism, revolutionary religion, the rule of the clergy, the Imam, Islamic justice, youth, and media & propaganda. Gems abound, like "Holy war means the conquest of all non-Moslem territories" which obviously refers to Jihad as a personal struggle to overcome sin and weakness. The war is waged in those areas of the psyche (the Dar al-Harb) where evil inclinations reside.

With prophetic insight, The Ayatollah declared: "Europe is nothing but a collection of unjust dictatorships". Exactly! The unelected Eurocrats in Brussels are usurping power by stealth, leading to a steady erosion of the ordinary citizen's personal liberties. Combined with oppressive political correctness and suffocating levels of taxation, this usurpation shows the EU returning to a feudal past where a self-appointed ruling class will lord it over the peasants.

He adds: "... living their stupid shallow lives!" Amen! For what could possibly be more superficial, wasteful and moronic than multiplying red tape in order to encumber the entrepreneurial spirit & lay heavy burdens on others whilst mouthing the postmodernist pieties of multiculturalism and moral relativism?

Quite appropriately he blasts the Europeans for drinking wine whilst reprimanding Iranians for imitating habits that have made them "... lose your ability to distinguish between good and evil." Encore! For what is moral relativism but contemporary nihilism? But if the Europeans reject their own Judeo-Christian heritage and scoff at the warning of the Prophet Isaiah: "Woe to those who call evil 'good' and good 'evil', " what chance they will heed the warning of the Ayatollah?

Sometimes I dare to disagree with the Great Sage; e.g. in denouncing the station for broadcasting Western, Oriental & Iranian music, he says: "Radio Tehran ... plays a nefarious role by introducing immorality and licentiousness into respectable families." I'm sure he would have loved the stirring track Persian Love by the German musician Holger Czukay on his Movies album, beautiful and in no way undermining family values.

Once again, on page 13, the perceptive Philosopher lays into the Orientalists, not improbably with academics like the dearly departed Ismail Faruqi and Edward Said in mind: "Some scholarly Orientalists, agents in the pay of the imperialists, are working to transform the Islamic truths." Of course this is hyperbole; Said claimed to be a Christian but we do not personally believe that any of these academics were corrupt. We merely take issue with their sin of omission in depriving us of the Ayatollah's wisdom.

The next quote, also prophetic, shows how far the current recidivist Iranian regime has strayed from the priorities of the true path: "We have nothing against going to the moon, or setting up Atomic Installations. But we have ... the mission of serving Islam and making its sacred principles known to the entire world ..." A legendary statesman rarely has worthy successors, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, even though he occupies a different position, is a disgrace to the Ayatollah's legacy.

Once more his own words contradict a stereotype of the prejudiced West, when in chapter seven: Youth, the Wise One admonishes: "Put away your sadness and your resignation!" Fortunately we have independent confirmation of his sunny disposition by the delightful Oriana Fallaci. After an angry exchange during the famous 1979 interview Fallaci ripped off her veil (chador) whereupon the Ayatollah stormed out. The next day his son Ahmed warned her not to even mention the word "chador." Of course she resumed the interview with the issue. In her own words: "First he stared at me in total astonishment, then his lips betrayed a shadow of a smile. Then it became a genuine smile. Finally it turned into a laugh. He laughed, yes".

Before that, Fallaci had relentlessly grilled him about the treatment of women and homosexuals. The current regime has a terrible reputation in this regard, but what do the Ayatollah's own words tell us? Amongst others, on p. 100, chapter 19: On Marriage, Adultery, and Conjugal Relations, we find this little treasure: "If a man sod0mizes the son, brother, or father of his wife after their marriage, the marriage remains valid." Not only does this statement reveal the most gracious tolerance but also a sharp legal brain equipped for any complexity.

More social libertarian than liberal, the Ayatollah's leniency extended into areas that are mercifully avoided in Western discourse, at least in polite society. Perhaps it is better to let sleeping goats lie before accusations of Speciesism surface. There's no denying the Iranian revolution has gone wrong; however, the evidence in these excerpts mostly absolves the Ayatollah from any harsh attitudes towards women and gays. Foreign policy is a different matter, yet even here the Avuncular Philosopher exhibits prescience and moral rectitude in his criticism of Eurabia and its foul philosophies. And what a surprise to discover that in certain spheres, his concept of personal freedom exceeded even that of an anarcho-capitalist like Murray Rothbard!
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