May 18, 2006 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 276

In the Footsteps of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Prophet Mohammad: Ahmadinejad Calls Upon Bush to Accept Islam

May 18, 2006 | By A. Savyon*
Iran | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 276


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to U.S. President George Bush, sent on May 7, 2006, emulates the letter written in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's to then U.S.S.R. president Mikhail Gorbachev. Ahmadinejad's letter also emulates the Prophet Mohammad's epistle 1,400 years ago to the king of Ethiopia and other rulers of the world, and his call for Islam to be accepted as superior and as the correct path guiding humanity.

Ahmadinejad Aligns Himself With the Prophet Mohammad and Ayatollah Khomeini

Ahmadinejad's letter to President Bush presents a comprehensive religious and cultural world view, outlining the advantages that Islam embodies as the correct path guiding humanity. [1] In its religious content, in the presentation of his world view, and in its invitation to Islam, Ahmadinejad's letter repeats the letters by Ayatollah Khomeini and the Prophet Mohammad.

The following are excerpts from the letter sent by Ayatollah Khomeini to then U.S.S.R. president Gorbachev in 1989: [2]

"First of all, the path that would ensure your success is your revision and modification of the path of your predecessors - who distanced themselves from God and religion. This thinking has dealt a great blow to the people of the Soviet Union. You must know that there is only one way to solve the problems of the world - and that is turning to the truth. Your country's main problem is not ownership, economics, or freedom. Your main problem is the lack of true belief in God...

"Now, after discussing these preliminary problems, I wish you would seriously look into Islam - not because Islam or the Muslims need you, but because Islam can bring comfort and salvation to all people and solve the problems of all nations..."

Moreover, Ahmadinejad signed his letter to President Bush with the same Koranic verse with which the Prophet Mohammad signed his epistle to the King of Ethiopia.

During his recent visit to the Indonesian capital Jakarta, Ahmadinejad said that the letter to Bush was "an invitation to Islam." [3]

It appears that Ahmadinejad aspires to a role in Iranian-Shi'ite-Muslim history akin to the role of the Prophet Mohammad himself, or, at the very least, comparable to the status of Ayatollah Khomeini, who is considered by many Shi'ites to be the "Hidden Imam." [4]

The following are excerpts from Ahmadinejad's letter to President Bush: [5]

"...According to divine verses, we have all been called upon to worship one God and follow the teachings of divine prophets. To worship a God which is above all powers in the world and can do all He pleases...

"The Almighty God sent His prophets with miracles and clear signs to guide the people and show them divine signs and purify them from sins and pollutions. And He sent the Book and the balance so that the people display justice and avoid the rebellious...

"Divine prophets have promised: The day will come when all humans will congregate before the court of the Almighty, so that their deeds are examined. The good will be directed towards Heaven and evildoers will meet divine retribution. I trust both of us believe in such a day, but it will not be easy to calculate the actions of rulers...

"Liberalism and Western-style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems.

"We increasingly see that people around the world are flocking towards a main focal point - that is, the Almighty God. Undoubtedly, through faith in God and the teachings of the prophets, the people will conquer their problems. My question for you is: Do you not want to join them?

"Mr. President,

"Whether we like it or not, the world is gravitating towards faith in the Almighty and justice and the will of God will prevail over all things.

"Wasalam 'Ala Man Ittab'a Al-huda

"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran"

Ayatollah Jannati Supports Ahmadinejad and His Letter

In a May 12 Friday sermon at Tehran University, Guardian Council Secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati described Ahmadinejad's letter as "divinely inspired," claiming that "the letter is a continuation of the path of Imam Khomeini." The difference between them, he said, "is that Khomeini's letter was issued from a position of leadership [Khomeini being the Supreme Leader of Iran], whereas Ahmadinejad's letter was issued from the position of president... The letter is wondrous and rare... The letter is [divinely] inspired. God desires to increase the power of our country, and thus casts His inspiration..." [6]

"Ahmadinejad is a courageous and religious man, whose words are worthy of being heeded. He [represents] the honor of Islam and of the state... Whether or not [the Americans] will respond - they will be harmed. If they respond - what can they possibly say? If they do not respond, this will betray their weakness and shame... Where else could such a letter be written, within Iran or outside it, [a letter] that amazes everyone in its form? Ahmadinejad is to be esteemed... This letter should be read to all children, it should be read out loud in schools and universities, it should be repeated in the media, and it should be included in the future in school textbooks." [7]

Jannati added that "Just as Imam [Khomeini] said to the Russians, 'Your problem is not economic, but stems from your denial of Allah,' the West too has reached a dead end... The letter shows that despite all its great pretensions, the grandeur of America is on its way to collapse and decay." [8]

Internal Criticism of the Ahmadinejad-Khomeini Equation

Conservative MP 'Emad Afrough, who has previously criticized Ahmadinejad's policies, said: [9] "This [Ahmadinejad's] letter cannot be equated to the letter of Imam [Khomeini]. The Imam wrote the letter in his capacity as the religious and moral leader... He predicted the impending fall of the Marxist regime... and offered the leaders of the Communist regime in Russia a way of salvation... Some of the president's advisors went even further and compared [Ahmadinejad's] letter to the path of the prophets..."

*A. Savyon is Director of the Iranian Media Project.

[1] For the text of the letter, see IRNA, May 9, 2006; Le Monde (Paris), May 9, 2006.

[2] See MEMRI SD 463, January 30, 2003,

Khamenei's Paper's Response to the Liberal Protest in Iran: 'Those Who Spread Slogans of Reform, Liberty, Democracy, and Human Rights… Are Fighting Islam'.

[3] IRNA, May 11, 2005.

[4] Following his return from New York after delivering a speech to the U.N. Assembly in September 2005, Ahmadinejad told several ayatollahs in Tehran that an aura enveloped him and that he sensed that the message of the "Hidden Imam" was reaching those who attended his speech. He made other statements about the impending arrival of the "Hidden Imam" on several occasions.

[5] Le Monde (Paris), May 9, 2006.

[6] Kayhan (Iran), May 13, 2006; Sharq (Iran), May 14, 2006.

[7] Sharq (Iran), May 14, 2006.

[8] Kayhan (Iran), May 13, 2006.

[9] Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), May 17, 2006.

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