In 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini became the Supreme Leader of Iran, riding in on a tremendous groundswell of public support. The Shah had been forced to flee for his life, Khomeini was welcomed back from exile in France as a national hero, and the Islamic Republic of Iran was born. Today, however, a new poll finds that “only 32% of the population consider themselves Shia Muslims.”
The poll was conducted by the Group for Analyzing and Measuring Attitudes in Iran (GAMAAN), described as “a non-profit institute in the Netherlands, asked Iranians about their ‘attitude toward religion.” The poll involved 50,000 Iranians.
According to the results, “78% of Iranians believe in God, but only 26% of them believe in ‘the coming of the Messiah (Imam Mahdi)’,” which is a major doctrine in Shia Islam.
Remarkably, “Half of the population used to believe but does not anymore and 6% have converted to a new religion.
“Out of 61% of the people born into religious families, 60% do not say their daily prayers. 68% of the participants believe that religion must not be the basis of legislation, 71% believe that religious institutions must be self-funded, and 42% believe that promoting any kind of religion must be banned from the public sphere.”
In short, the people are rejecting a strict Islamic theocracy, which has driven people away from the faith rather than consolidated them in their faith.
What makes this polling data so interesting is that the Iranian Revolution came from the bottom up, meaning, it was the people, led by the Muslim clergy, which toppled the iron-handed, very-secular Shah.
While Khomeini was still in exile in France, his weekly teachings were recorded, duplicated on cassette tapes, and smuggled into Iran, where the clergy preached these same messages in the mosques on Fridays. And the people, revolting against the growing worldliness and anti-religious sentiments in their nation, toppled the regime, welcoming back the austere Khomeini.
As for Khomeini himself, Hamid Algar wrote in 1981 that, “Given the current fame of Imam Khomeini as a revolutionary leader who has achieved a rare degree of success in the purely political sphere, it may appear surprising that he first gained fame as a writer and teacher concerned with devotional and even mystical matters.”
So, Khomeini began his career as a popular, spiritual teacher. But in his mind, the spiritual intersected with the secular and the political.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Brown