HIST 315: Address to a Group of Women in Qum Article Analysis


Address to a Group of Women in Qum Article Analysis Primary Source Analysis (25% of the final grade) Themes in World History (HIST 315): Islamic Reform and Radicalism in the Middle East Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: “Address to a Group of Women in Qum, March 6, 1979.” In Imam Khomeini, Islam and Revolution, the Writings and […]

“Address to a Group of Women in Qum” Analysis

The Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini convey a first-hand portrayal of the message of Iran’s supreme leader. In historical studies, it is often required to refer to primary sources of data to collect information on events that happened in the past. It is essential to use structured methods in analyzing primary sources or information from a historical moment, to get the reason and context regarding the information. Primary source analysis looks at a document’s time and places of origin while acknowledging the author’s bias and the intended audience to examine the credibility and authenticity of historical information for a clear understanding of an information source. In this regard, the Writings and Declaration feature as a credible primary source of the historical moment as Khomeini addresses women in Qom, offering the author’s perspective on political, social, and cultural issues in Iran, which also had a reciprocal influence on his work.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ruled as the first supreme leader of Iran after overthrowing the 2,500year-old monarchy under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in the 1979 Iranian revolution (Nashat 106). After that, Ayatollah Khomeini ruled as the cleric and political leader of the nation, showing extensive knowledge of Sharia as a faqih and Ayatollah, and became widely recognized for his political role as the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. During his tenure, Ayatollah Khomeini dwelled extensively on issues regarding women in Islam, such as marriage and divorce, women’s rights, their roles in families, and their Jihad by referring to their role in the Islamic Revolution (Khomeini 263). In Khomeini’s address to women in Qum, 1979, we get a picture of his perspective towards women and their role in the historical, religious and political scene of that historical moment. When Khomeini created the document, he had taken power as Iran’s supreme leader after a successful revolution.

Owing to the author’s popularity of the document, the Writings and Declarations of Imam prove to be authentic through cross-referencing the publication with similar works from that period. Furthermore, the Iranian revolution and the Writings of Imam Khomeini featured extensively in print and broadcast media from 1979, which confirms that the documents are a primary source. For example, Mir-Hosseini refers to Imam Khomeini’s address in Qom and its impact on shaping the gender debates in Qom (17). The prominent political leader was a well-known writer on matters concerning Islam and produced several contradicting works on women in Islam that have evoked debates among scholars (Paidar 201). Therefore, Khomeini’s documents provide first-hand information from historical moments used by researchers in related fields as primary sources of information.

Imam Khomeini’s writings contain a bias towards himself, as he depicts his views towards women as liberal and alludes to the notion that he advocated for women’s rights when they stood oppressed in Iran. As a prominent Islam cleric in Iran, Khomeini involved himself in several religious discussions about the position of women in Islam society (Mir-Hosseini 15). As a result of the theological position Khomeini had over the nation, his influence touched issues in the everyday life of the citizens of Iran. Thus, the remarks made in his writings made him even more popular in his nation though they were biased. In retrospect, Imam Khomeini wrote other works that expressed a restrictive approach toward the position of a woman in Muslim society. Authors’ works can contain a bias toward their views on a subject. Scholars should account for this bias in their research to offer accurate conclusions.

Additionally, Imam Khomeini can be argued to have presented a biased view of the cultural perception of the woman in Iran that inclined from the truth to hide the gender inequity that afflicted the nation. Khomeini, in his address to women in Qom in 1979, opines how Islam had raised the woman’s position in society to be equal to that of a man (263). However, according to Paidar, gender equality was part of the reasons leading up to the Iranian Revolution, especially with oppression towards women (190). For example, women in Iran were not allowed to take some courses in higher education since they were considered manly (Paidar 164). The first-hand account of Khomeini offers a biased account of the historical moment in Iran that favors his agenda at that time. Scholars should, therefore, be careful to identify an author’s bias when using primary sources in their research to determine the truth behind a historical document.

The Writings of Imam Khomeini emerged at a time in history when Iran seemed to move into a new phase after overthrowing the 2,500year-old monarchy reign in the country, and the documents paint a picture of this new hope. Iran women had suffered under the old regime, with their marriage rights seemingly annulled by the judicial system (Khomeini 264). Therefore, as Imam Khomeini addressed the women in Qom, he spoke of marital divorce, an issue that affected society directly. Resultantly, the social context of the writings had a significant effect on the books, and the subjects discussed revolved around the matters affecting Iranian women. Research into primary sources requires the scholar to be aware of the influence of the context of the document on their work. Furthermore, primary sources offer a unique perspective of historical context and its effect on society.

The Islamic society in Iran was grappling with human rights violations accusations from America, which was a close ally of the nation through President Carter’s administration (Cleveland 98). As a result, the political context of the region also influenced the content of the writings by Imam Khomeini. In 1989, the new supreme leader of Iran worked to repaint the image associated with the nation as he replaced the previous Persian constitution of 1906 with the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran, paving the way to a new chapter in the history of Iran. Imam Khomeini wanted to prove to the international community that his government respected human rights equally and did not associate with the previous oppressive regime. Consequently, this political strategy that aimed to please the international community played a part in the context of the writing by Khomeini. Therefore, the author’s political views are present in their work as part of the discussion of their work.

Iranian women formed the audience that Imam Khomeini intended to reach through his writings from the speech at the city of Qom, where he expressed his gratitude towards them while promising them judicial reforms in marital matters. According to Khomeini, women played a critical part in the Iranian Revolution that roved their equality to men in the nation (Khomeini 263). However, Iranian women might have been skeptical about their new leader due to his earlier works, which contradicted his new stand for women’s justice. Furthermore, the new supreme leader compares women to the Quran because they both bear the responsibility of raising faithful men in society. Since the Quran was highly regarded and respected in Islam society, this comparison aimed to show that the author valued women highly. Additionally, the comparison draws to the fact that the nation was highly religious and based many of their daily life issues on religion, including their marriage and the judicial system. Hence, the choice of language can be used to analyze the historical context of the author’s works.

The Writings and Declaration by Khomeini are a credible primary source of the historical moment as Khomeini addresses women in Qom, albeit they offer a biased perspective on the political, social, and cultural issues in Iran that reciprocally influenced his work. In research, primary sources provide a unique look at the way several issues in history were recorded and interpreted by society. Even though research should ideally be unbiased, the opinions of most authors impact the information found in primary sources. However, primary source analysis can be carried out systematically to identify the impact of the bias in the author’s work to reveal the truth behind a historical context. In the case of Imam Khomeini, the new supreme leader of Iran painted a picture of hope for Iranian women and the international community regarding gender equality after the previous regime stood accused of violating such human rights. However, research proves that Imam Khomeini’s argument was biased since he had published works earlier that did not support gender equality. This study implies that even though primary sources are valuable information sources for researchers, scholars should be careful to obtain accurate data through cross-examination.

Works Cited

Cleveland, William L. A History Of The Modern Middle East. 4th ed., Westview Press, 2008.

Khomeini, Ruhollah, and Hamid Algar. Islam and Revolution. Routledge, 2014.

Mir-Hosseini, Ziba. Islam and Gender: The Religious Debate in Contemporary Iran. Princeton University Press, 1999.

Nashat, Guity. Women and Revolution in Iran. Westview Press, 1983.

Paidar, Parvin. Women and The Political Process in Twentieth-Century Iran. Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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Published On: 01-01-1970

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