Consecutive Lectures in UK

Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan

2021-07-06


The conditions have changed completely since this week when we have approached to the month of Muharram (1357, 1978) and the Islamic revolution has reached its peak more and more. I have to accept to lecture in London and other small towns. On the other hand, I usually went to Paris once a week or at most once every two weeks and then returned to London again after a few days of staying in Neauphle-le-Château. During my time in the UK, while attending the university, I spent most of my time lecturing in various cities. I had several lectures every week, especially in the months of Muharram and Safar especially after the recommendation of Imam Khomeini.

I was invited for lecturing in most of the British universities which had a large number of Iranian students during those several months. Two Iranian groups were active in most major universities: one was the Muslim students and Islamic associations and the other the leftist ones and the members of the confederations who were usually involved with each other and sometimes treated each other harshly. In fact, the fight between the religious and the left people had escalated, and almost everywhere I spoke for an hour — often at night — I had to spend hours answering the questions that sometimes lasted until midnight. In these lectures, which addressed various ideological and political issues, leftists and members of the confederation also gathered and inflamed the atmosphere with their questions and slogans.

I went to lecture to all the cities in which the Islamic associations were active. I gave two lectures at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, where a large crowd of students gathered; especially in the second time. I also gave one or two lectures in Manchester one of which was in Leeds University which lasted until twelve PM as a result which there was a verbal conflict between the Muslims and leftists. The cities of Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Lancaster, Cardiff and Oxford were among them. One of them was the University of Southampton in southern UK which had an active Islamic association at that time; although they were few in number. The person in charge of the association was the late Ahmad Attari. The Chinese were also very active in this university and they outnumbered the religious students. I went to this city twice to give a speech, and in both times there was a quarrel and a fight broke out, because the leftists did not allow me to speak and tried to disrupt the meeting with a commotion. During the days of Muharram, lectures were more enthusiastic, and even in some cities, the Muslim students rented a large hall in the city.

Mr. Attari came to reach me by car for these meetings. Mr. Abdullah Mahmoudzadeh was also with me for the first time. For the first meeting we were going from London to Southampton with Mr. Attari, he told me on the way: If the meeting is disrupted and you could not speak, do not be upset, so far every time we have a meeting, the leftists have disrupted them! I said: Do not worry about this, I will calm them down. I told him: "It was the same problem in Lancaster's speech and I was able to calm the meeting down. It was about seven-thirty, eight o'clock in the evening, when we arrived in Southampton and went straight to the University Hall. Many people had come. More than three hundred people was considered a very good population. I started the lecture. About a quarter of an hour after I spoke, someone got up in the middle of the meeting and started insulting me. I told him: We have two options: either let me finish my speech in half an hour, then you can speak or you can come to the podium right now and express what you want to say. He said no, I want to express my words right now. I handed over the tribune to him. He spoke for about six or seven minutes in refuting my words; of course with insults and ugly words! Then he went and sat down. I continued my discussion with a few short sentences in response to them. I just said: This friend of ours could have expressed his words in a softer tone. I followed my argument without objecting to his words. The meeting was quiet until the end of the speech.

After the speech, about ten people got up and asked questions, and I answered. Except for one or two, everyone else raised their questions politely. The meeting lasted until about 11:30 pm, but overall it was a very good meeting and the friends were very satisfied and the late Attari was very happy and in his own words congratulated me for "a lot of patience and very good tactics". After a few weeks, I went to the same university for the second session, and it was relatively quiet and there were fewer questions, but the crowd was much larger than before. One of the reasons that caused the leftists to be surrendered was that the tone of my speech against the Shah's regime was too sharp. They themselves did not dare to speak very harshly, because they believed that there were people among the students as a source of SAVAK and that they would have difficulty returning to Iran. The second reason was that I had just arrived from Iran and described in detail the events in Iran, of which they had very little knowledge; although they did not know much about me and knew me as "Ostad or Master Hassani".

One of the cities where the student friends and Iranians living there rented the town hall was a city in the south of England called Brighton. This meeting was held in the days close to Ashura. The crowd was extraordinary. The hall had about eight hundred seats, and in addition to filling the seats, there were about a hundred people standing around the hall. At the end of the speech on that day, the students and attendees asked many questions about how the Islamic government was governed and the situation of women, students, and artists, indicating that everyone knew that the Islamic Revolution would bear fruit and be victorious. For instance, women asked about the issue of hijab after the victory of the revolution. Some worried that the chador would become compulsory. I told them: First, these are minor issues. For now, we must all join hands so that the regime is overthrown and the Iranian people rule their own destiny. Secondly, what are your worries about hijab? First of all, the chador will not become compulsory, it is at most a cover that should not worry you. Secondly, it is important for women's rights that you must be sure that the status and dignity of women in the Islamic government will be fully respected. The discussion of religious minorities in the Islamic government, the economic program of the Islamic government, freedom in the Islamic society, music, cinema, healthy entertainment, etc. were among the questions of the audience.

Here I need to point out that after Tasua and Ashura, the situation in the university meetings changed completely. A few days after Ashura, the film of the demonstrations in Tehran related to the days of Tasua and Ashura arrived there and these films were shown in all the meetings at the beginning of the session. Of course, there were no videos at that time, the films were shown on the screen, and it was often 8-mm films shown by the projector.

The presence of millions of people in the demonstrations, the presence of women in hijab and chador, Islamic slogans, the absolute leadership of the Imam, the presence of clerics in front of the crowd, had solved everything. No one could doubt about the nature of the revolution, the leadership of the ulema and the Imam, and the presence of millions of religious people in the context of the revolution. Previously, in university meetings, the biggest debate and controversy was over whether the nature of the movement of the people of Iran was Islamic or, - the so-called leftists - a workers' revolution? Are the main motives of this movement and revolution religious motives or material motives? Is the revolution led by the ulema or the intellectuals?

 

Source: Memoirs of Hajjat al-Eslam Valmoslemin Dr. Hassan Rouhani, Tehran, Islamic Revolution Documents Center, 1387, pp. 480-483



 
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